Category Archives: Cultural HiJack

New Genres: Cultural Hijack, Space HiJack – “Untitled Trash Project”

New Genres: Cultural HiJack Space HighJack: “Untitled Trash Project” Gustavo Sampaio Breakfast 4Breakfast 4 Dinner 3 Dinner 2 Dinner 1 Breakfast 3 Breakfast 2 Breakfast 1 Lunch 2 Lunch 1 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 rests 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 someone. 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.

New Genres: Cultural HiJack, Brasil Slogan HiJack

New Genres: Cultural Hijack Brasil Slogan HiJack Gustavo Sampaio
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.

New Genres: Cultural Hijack [Scholar’s Library]

On the same day, I read both the beginning of Beautiful Trouble by Andrew Boyd and a piece assigned by guest artist, Mandy Morrison. Beautiful Trouble is a guide for artists who want to work in socially, visually, and performatively effective ways. The piece Mandy Morrison assigned was “Dancing with Twitter,” a piece in The Mobile Story written by Susan Kozel, Mia Keinanen and Leena Rouhiainen. Their performance, entitled “IntuiTweet,” (Farman, 81) explores the kinesthetic sensations of movement as transmitted over Twitter and realtime re-enacted by other collaborators. Beautiful Trouble’s piece on “Media-Jacking,” written by Patrick Reinsborough, Doyle Canning and Joshua Kahn Russell, discusses using an opposition’s media power and time to create a disruption in favor of your cause or message (Boyd, 72). In light of the recent rise of politicians using Twitter as their broadcast, I thought it would be appropriate to take back Twitter. This idea solidified as I reread Daniel Dennett’s Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination; one quote about replication stuck in my mind: “a scholar is just a library’s way of making another library” (Dennett, 126). That day, I started the Twitter “Scholar’s Library.”

twitter bg

Since then, Scholar’s Library has been a project that I have worked on intermittently, adding to the Library over several months. Each tweet is composed in a consistent format, both visually and performatively. My initial goal for Scholars Library to

  1. Interact with people, semi-organically in physical and digital space
  2. Detail an aspect of who these people are are, and therefore how to read their contribution
  3. Produce a ‘fact,’ whether factual or otherwise

For a visual format, I wanted to take each of these into consideration and develop a finished piece that was both different from the physical interactions and exactly the same in its intention. I created a simple formula for this:

thing

The consistent performance aspect was initially unintentional. As I began speaking to people to create tweets, I found that I was very nervous and often couldn’t quite think of what to say. I noticed after the third person that in my nervous nature, I had repeated the same three questions every time:

  • Name? This is going online, so you can use your name-name or an alias.
  • Someone who you admire? It doesn’t have to be the person you admire most, just, someone.
  • What is a fact you know?

These questions acted as a small interview, which in turn formed the tweets.

The project continued as a simple side project to indulge my own creativity until mid-November. At this point, by the recommendation of my wonderful life guide Angela Ferraiolo, I began to focus more on Scholar’s Library as a conference project. This is when the library entered the real world. I developed and re-developed the presentation of the Library several times: initially, I considered projecting tweets onto the windows of the Sarah Lawrence Esther Rauschenbush Library during our finals week as a playful distraction, similar to the “99% bat signal” of Occupy Wall Street fame (Boyd, 273). However, as we did not have the ability to project on these windows (yet!), I had to rethink the physical aspect of the Library. I considered the qualities of the Library, the nature of the short-form tweet, and why I even wanted to present my Library in the campus library. Finally, I realized that what I wanted from the large-scale projection was two things: visibility and legitimacy. What is more visible and legitimate than the thousands of books in a college library? I started to rebrand the visual components of the twitter page. There were several versions of the Scholar’s Library icon. The basic design modified the book logo from Library of Congress, as it is an open source image. The color scheme also remained consistent as I intentionally chose a very stable and intellectual deep blue and white. The versions of the icon happened because, firstly, I could not decide what to put in the book! First it was a question mark, to reference the semi-factual nature of the project; after that, it became a simple S, for scholar; by the end, the symbols I chose were quotation marks, to honor the spoken component.   scholars lib blue circle scholars lib no bg scholars lib blue In critique, my clever and thoughtful art/life director Angela Ferraiolo reminded me to consider one thing: replication. The origins of both the Dennett quote and Scholar’s Library was theories of how knowledge replicates. Replication is what lead me to the final icon, a book on a beautiful descending sea of identical books, fading as they moved farther and farther from their ‘source material.’

FINAL

With my new digital digs, I planned. I wanted to be sure that I distributed the tweets at a time when there would be high circulation of atypical books. Of course, the perfect time was our impending finals, when approximately 1,300 students rush to the library to write papers on niche subjects they moderately care about. The next issue was “where.” Deciding which books to store the tweets in became a sort of game. But again, I returned to the many knowledgeable artists of Beautiful Trouble: “Stay on message” (Boyd, 178). My focus wasn’t about windows, or finals, or even the delicious chai that they never have in the library cafe. It was about the process of learning and replicating knowledge. Therefore, it seemed most appropriate to install the tweets in a series of books with language or fact related to the tweet. This was paired with opening the Scholar’s Library page on any available computer in the library and setting it as the homepage, giving the Library both a digital and physical preference. At the installation, there were 20 tweets in the library. This resulted in 80 books.          lib map unnamed Installation was hilarious and taxing. Over the course of four hours, myself and my collaborator Wynn Heyward scoured the shelves for our 80 books. The list spanned all sections of the library, intentionally, and featured many silly or strange titles. Several students stared as we scampered through the library, tweets in hand, placing the small slips of paper logo-out in the books and turning them so the tweets stuck out in the aisle. There were a few books we could not find in this process; most were replaced with nearby alternates, but some were shuffled in with the extra tweets I had printed earlier. At the end, these extra tweets were positioned at the front desk, and after a long day of scholarly adventures, we left. slips books There are very few things I would do differently about this project, as I intend to do many different things with it in the future. I consider this the Opening Day for Scholar’s Library. It was successful in that I gained a few followers and noticed a few slips gone; it was unsuccessful in that I wished I had had more tweets, more help, and a generally larger production. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and plan to continue on with the Library. If anyone has a contribution, find this Scholar and we will let the world know.  

New Genres: Cultural Hijack [The Cocoon]

For many, many weeks, the only question people would ask me was: “so, how’s the cocoon?” Admittedly, because of this, the cocoon felt successful before I had even installed it: people were talking about it, and that is the first step to public art. This all began in a class as we discussed Heimbold, the visual arts building at Sarah Lawrence College. Heimbold has three intensely obvious characteristics: it is built with steel, concrete, and glass; the space is large and intimidating, with little emotional or physical access to the building itself; and, much like its typical occupants, Heimbold is suffocatingly white. We framed Heimbold as a problem to solve. How do we work with and against the building itself to create successful, affective art? One student commented that “your eyes are welcome, but your body is not.” This comment is what created the cocoon.

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Initially, the cocoon was a hug machine. Taken from another project series, the Hug Machine extends from the walls of the building it is installed in, and envelops the participant in a comforting, human-like hug. However, there was something incomplete about the Hug Machine. Andrew Boyd, editor of Beautiful Trouble (a text I read towards the end of my time with the cocoon), writes quite smartly in his manual to good art: “praxis makes perfect” (Boyd, 162). After trying to digitally construct The Hug Machine, it became clear that certain elements were more important to me than others; the softness, enclosure, and positive intent of the Hug Machine were what really appealed to me. At a loss and needing a project, I reviewed some of the texts from the semester. I spent 90 minutes in a bubble bath rereading Edward Bernays’ Propaganda, a 1928 classic on the nature of Public Affairs, business, and the public. In Propaganda, Bernays gives several stories of companies working with the public in a sleight of hand; they would promote their projects through public works, contests, and academic studies. (Bernays, 70-79). He explains why this is justified:
“The development of public opinion for a cause or line of socially constructive action may very often be the result of a desire on the part of the propagandist to meet successfully his own problem which the socially constructive cause would further. And by doing so he is actually fulfilling a social purpose in the broadest sense.” (Bernays, 73-74)
Bernays’ idea of social uplift or change happening in conjunction with and for the intent of business made me think. Earlier, we also studied Nikeplatz, a piece by Mattes & Mattes.

nikeplatz

Nikeplatz was created as a reaction to people placing company logos, and therefore brand identities, both on their body through clothes and in their spaces through advertising. However, the piece itself was simply a performance of Mattes & Mattes unveiling a building-sized sculpture of the Nike logo in a public park and interviewing passing people about it. This proved much more effective than a simple statement like “corporate logos are bad” or “where are you putting brands?” Because Mattes & Mattes’ piece was not necessarily the construction itself but rather the reactions, people felt that their opinion was their own, and in natural reaction to the over-the-top commodity occupation. Much like Bernays suggests, the most potent propaganda isn’t direct, but conscious of how to influence social dynamic. I desperately wanted to join in on the fun.   The Hug Machine’s redesign involved three necessary components: soft materials, a feeling of enclosure, and an enforced distance between participants and Heimbold itself. My mission was to redevelop Heimbold as a space, sneakily, so that people would feel both welcomed and comforted in a typically hostile space. The combination of these key elements are what lead me to the cocoon. Cocoons wrapped their occupants in soft, shapely domes that were produced naturally in high-bug/butterfly/worm areas. The metaphor of nature invading a deeply removed and unnatural space excited me, as did the easy recognition of the material and shape. It was going to be wonderful.

Silkworm_&_cocoon chrysalis_macro_close_up_cocoon_pupa_metamorphosis_transform_cycle-419018

For the cocoon, I studied many naturally occurring cocoons. The shape that appealed to me most (and seemed most iconic) was the shape of a moth’s cocoon; the silkworm’s cocoon had a texture that fit my ideal balance of softness and ephemeral weightlessness; finally, in considering how humans should interact with it, I referenced Nacho Carbonell’s Cocoon Seats, an installation that allows people to interact from the shoulders down with their heads in a cocoon. Although I wanted a singular experience for the cocoon, the way that Carbonell creates a simultaneously singular and social experience greatly appealed to me.

Nacho-Carbonell-Social-Sofa-Communication-Line-1-537x358

After a consultation with our fearless art leader, Angela Ferraiolo, I began experimenting with fabric. This featured a bucket of cornstarch, several fabric samples from the internet, and a tiny knife. My process was testing each fabric (felt, cotton, wool, and raw cotton) for two things: rigidity and fluffiness. I distressed each fabric by sliding the small knife into the surface layers of the fabric and pulling up small tufts; this proved most successful for felt and the raw cotton. However, the second test for rigidity eliminated the felt, as a few days after applying the cornstarch, the felt molded. In sight of my research, I ordered six feet of raw cotton batting for my cocoon. wool unnamed 2 This is where the real construction began. I spent several days cutting the sheets of batting into two panels, designed so that when they hung together, they would look like the moth’s cocoon. To support and set this style, I also sewed in over 25 ft of copper wire so that the cocoon could bend in odd shapes and styles, but maintain its overall shape. There were two wire inserts other than the outline of the cocoon, which gave the piece its sense of depth and movement.                  cut sewing The final step, and my personal favorite, was the lights. To reinforce the ephemeral feeling of the light, fluffy distressed cotton, I sewed in four LED copper string lights, creating spirals and curves along the inside of the piece that later wove up the copper supports that held it in place. The lights were beautiful, and glowed just enough that they were visible from the inside but somewhat hidden from the outer world, helping to divide the conceptual cocoon space from the real world Heimbold Space.                   scissors close spiral   The installation itself both succeeded and failed, in my opinion. When hanging the actual cocoon, I ran out of the copper wire that I used to suspend it from the supports of the second floor staircase. Although tragic and frustrating at the time, I nudged, angled, and twisted the wire until it came to a satisfactory, semi-closed shape. The final touch was two small stitches that closed the cocoon from the back and a single red chair underneath, to encourage people to not only interact with the piece, but do so leisurely. unnamed  inside outer2 There are several things I wanted to do differently in this piece, but I consider them lessons for future projects. My biggest regret is, like the cautionary tale that Seres Lu tackles in Graffiti vs. Street Art, my piece was art. There was something inherently limiting and classist about my piece being art, which was counter to the intent of an equalizing, sheltering space. Still, in my many trips through Heimbold, I caught several people resting in that red chair and staring up at the lights that twinkled around them. As an artist, I see many conceptual and aesthetic flaws in my piece (namely, the uneven hand stitches that secured the wire within the piece and oddly bourgeois nature of art)— as a student, I thought that the cocoon was a perfect respite.  

Cultural Hijack: A Tour of the Building

IMG-4151 IMG-4148 IMG-4145  

Process:

I wanted to criticize space and Angela challenges me on how self righteous it comes across. In frustration, I realized that what I wanted to do was explore Heimbold through my emotions and my memories. It is a micro-Situationist with thoughts and ideas from Vito Acconci Following Piece, The Art of the Question by Anonymous, and Tom Finkelpearl’s “Participatory Art”, as well as my own experience as a theater student. I initially wanted my project be more aggressive but I was convinced against it by Angela. As I developed the places and spots to visit I made a few consistent spots tp visit.

1. I was started on the top floor and ended on the bottom floor of Heimbold.

2. During the show I enter bathrooms of all genders. I stick my hand in the toilet.

3. I told different and often conflicting versions of the same story. The conflicting nature of it comes from conflicting natures on the same stories. For example I framed one tour as a descent into my feelings and chose not to in another.

4. I ask people questions about whatever story I told and asked them to do things. Including but limited to:

- sing a note

- look out a window

-sneak down the stairs

-play inside a rolling cart for film department

-reassure me that I am doing ok

-Stare at other students.

-Move chairs

4. Rely on my humorous personality to entertain even when I felt drained and unsatisfied.

What I feel about my piece and what I learned.

The first thing I noticed was the stress and lack of confidence from the first performance to the last. I became more emotionally drained from performance to performance. This led my tours from being confident and playful to (internally) more fearful and transgressive. What this change was that no two tours developed the same meaning. The same way that remembering alters the memory itself  over time, so did the descent from the top floor to the bottom. I felt that my piece became less about the construction of my Heimbold experiences to my failure to maintain the same thinking of it. I couldn’t remember the right questions or routines and would, varying degrees of success, make up new ones. This in my mind is painful and yet in retrospect completely in line with the performance project as a whole. Because my relationship with my performance became strained and possibly unhinged so did my demonstration of the space. This meaning is of course very different for the audience, but their experience of the space was more of an amusing tour of memories, make believe, and activity that I would not experience at first.

One theme that sticks out in the retrospect is the transgression. Transgression here appeared in three forms: transgression of social mores, transgression of comfort level, and the failure to transgress against one authority instead of another. Lets start in more of a note form of each kind and what that means about Heimbold.

-Social mores I would violate and ask the group to participate including put my hand in a toilet, enter a gendered bathroom as a group, stare at a stranger walking by, play in a rolling cart, and stand on tables. What this did was provide a moment of playfulness but also give a eye on two elements of the space. The first is that there are things you can do that are fun that aren’t wrong or hurtful. The second, there is no true rebellion over the space. My playful attitude has zero effect on the architecture of the building beyond add a feeling onto it, like adding invisible graffiti onto the space.

-I never transgressed the comfort level of any of the participants. I did transgressed my own comfort level when i initially put my hand in the toilet. By having my audience witness it I did unsettle the impossibility of the action. It’s small but it will be something remembered nonetheless.

-Finally i felt i push beyond my comfort zone in a positive way. I have touched on this early but I do feel that this performance has pushed me out of a certain comfort around my art making and I would like to further with it.

The OöfOöf

I created a fashion movement at Sarah Lawrence College. The OöfOöf. Ever heard of it? It’s the newest trend! Ideas and concepts explored in my project; manipulation, social movements, absurdity, social reach and pull, wanting to be apart of something you don’t understand, and what is fashion? The OöfOöf  is made from a plastic shopping bag that food/items typically come in. I was looking at a bag full of these plastic bags in my living room one day and realized that some of the images on the bags aren’t too far off from something I would see being sold at Urban Outfitters or any other clothing store that is trying to sell “hipster” “cool” “edgy.” I was overcome with the idea of turning the bags into my own garment! My mind started spinning more and more and I started to think about how I could get people to wear them for me! I was confident in my own social pull at Sarah Lawrence and my manipulation abilities. I was also confident because Sarah Lawrence is a unique college, where something like this isn’t too far off from something you would expect a student to do. To turn a regular old plastic take out into an OöfOöf I cut off the bottom of the bag then on the side without an imagine I would cut it in half, creating a vest look. This is the OöfOöf! I wanted to have an OöfOöf Day! Where people all over campus were seen wearing them. I wanted this to happen two fold, I did so by;  getting people to participate in advanced and on OöfOöf day I asked people I to wear OöfOöf’s on the spot. Angela had told me to think about trying to sell people on the OöfOöf, I drew on my experience in customer service. In preparation for the project I read the Tactics section of “Beautiful Trouble.” The section was helpful, all sorts of ideas came out of it. To execute this I had to convince the advance people the new OöfOöf trend was something they wanted to be apart of. I marketed it to the advance people as something they were now apart, something that was very special and selective. I always started out with the question: Want to be apart of something special? They would ask me to explain and I would follow with the statement: There is a new fashion trend / social movement happening at Sarah Lawrence College and I want YOU to be apart of it! It depended on the person but most would ask a couple more questions before agreeing. I would say I couldn’t tell them the trend until they agreed to participating. I used this tactic for multiple reasons; it created a mystery to the OöfOöf, it fostered intrigue (after hyping it up so much they usually really wanted to know what it was), and it was a way for me to manipulate! I was able to convince people to do something for me that they were given very little solid information on. Before they agreed I would just make the trend sound very fancy, selective and special. Once they agreed, I would leap into a description of the OöfOöf’s, it was most helpful when I had them with me. I always said that each OöfOöf is picked specifically for the person, and that they are incredibly meadable. Basically how people of all different sizes can wear an OöfOöf! Organizing the advance people was the most time consuming aspect of the project. The people I asked in advance when I didn’t have the OöfOöf’s with me, I then had to hunt down to give them one before OöfOöf day. It was very important that they were wearing an OöfOöf I had made and that everyone got a “fitting.” The fitting was very important because it reinstated making the person participating feel as though this was a special thing I had asked them to do and the fittings also drove home how OöfOöf’s are for everyone, this gave me the time and space to adjust the OöfOöf perfectly to the person. I wanted all the advance people to feel cool, comfortable and confident in their OöfOöf and I knew those feelings were a crucial in order for the advance people to follow through with the project. I wanted the college to see the OöfOöf’s around before the actual OöfOöf day. I took inspiration for the Tactics section of “Beautiful Trouble” to inspire me. At first I had my heart set in hanging a banner of OöfOöf in the library. I thought it was the perfect place, because I did not want to first reaction when someone sees an OöfOöf to think of it as art. Well I tried very hard to get the banner to be hung in the library but after weeks of emails and my project being bounced around between people and different departments, I momentarily gave up. Instead I made stickers!! Setting aside the banner idea for a hot sec and working on stickers was not a bad thing. I had been wanting to make stickers all semester and so incredibly overjoyed to get started. Description of  the stickers; it’s a picture of an OöfOöf on a black hanger against a pink/purple background and the name OöfOöf over the image in Didot font italicized. I wanted them to look fancy, colorful and get the message across. Over thanksgiving break I made the stickers and put about 20 all over campus. I did this so that after everyone came back the stickers  would be everywhere and so that people would not see me putting them around. I got the sticker making bug and could not stop making them. I gave them to all of the advance people and I made even more for around campus! I was obsessed!  I think the stickers were one of the most successful aspects of this project for a couple reasons. 1. Someone I do not know posted a picture of the sticker on her instagram! 2. When I asked advance people to participate, after they agree and I them a sticker a few of them said “Oh this is the trend?! I’ve seen these around campus!” 3. And the same reaction happened when I gave the stickers out on OöfOöf DAY day! I think this is successful because my stickers made an impression on people. They recognized them and thought about them, even if it was a fleeting thought. People really wanted to know what an OöfOöf was. Moving back to the banner. I did end up making one! It was hung during open studios in heimbold. It looked great and I’m very glad I made it. The day before I sent this message to all the advance people: “THANK YOU for participating in this special Sarah Lawrence trend!~~ here’s whats up: TOMORROW Monday the 4th is OöfOöf DAY ! PLS wear your OöfOöf all day!! (if you have work and have to take it off for a bit that is of course fine!) I recommend wearing the OöfOöf over a more tight fitting shirt, then a jacket over. The OöfOöf’s are delicate so wearing it over a bulkier garment can cause wear and tear! If ripping occurs, you can always tape the ripped pieces together or text me and I can provide another OöfOöf. It may not be the same style but it will still be curated specifically for you. things to remember!: when asked why you are wearing it say something along the lines of “oh this? my OöfOöf? this is a new trend! Have you not heard??” if a professor asks you, you can be less sassy and say its for a conference project, also please do not say jenny morris is the one behind all of this. THANK YOU so so so much again! pls text me with any questions !!” What we have all been waiting for! OöfOöf DAY! On OöfOöf DAY I stood outside the library at three different times asking people if they wanted to be apart of a new trend?! I stood at outside from 9-9:30, 10:50-11:15, and 12:30-1. I picked these times because people would either be going to class or leaving class or were busy times at the library. I gave a sticker to everyone that participated and I found this to be an extremely helpful tactic! Some people were so overjoyed and excited to be apart of something and others wanted nothing to do with me. People posted about the OöfOöf’s and OöfOöf DAY all throughout the day!! It was greatly successful in my opinion and I had so much fun doing it!! Overall thoughts, I had amazing time during all the steps of this project. A goofy idea of mine was turned into a real thing and I don’t think there is any greater experience than that. Having a funny idea become real! WowowoW! There were obviously some lows, like not being able to hang the banner in the library and being bounced around to all the different people. But it taught me how bureaucratic it is to work in public space. I now have to tools to work in public space in the future. Besides from the banner there were no more lows regarding the project. If I was to do it again, I would have more people post on social media. One friend of mine tweeted and posted on facebook. A that was extremely successful and someone who took an OöfOöf outside of the library commented on her post! The project taught me about manipulation, how to sell a silly thing, working in public space, and the value of stickers.
My first round of OöfOöf stickers!!

My first round of OöfOöf stickers!!

OöfOöf on instagram

Someone I don’t know posted a picture of my OöfOöf sticker!

On OöfOöf DAY! A friend posted an instagram story of her Someone I don't know posted a picture of her OöfOöf!

On OöfOöf DAY! A friend posted an instagram story of her OöfOöf!

OöfOöf on Facebook

OöfOöf on Facebook

Another person posted about the OöfOöf on instagram! she even personalized it by wearing it backwards!

Another person posted about the OöfOöf on instagram! she even personalized it by wearing it backwards!

OöfOöf on Twitter!

OöfOöf on Twitter!

My wonderfully fashionable class wearing their OöfOöf's!!

My wonderfully fashionable class wearing their OöfOöf’s!!

Someone was spotted  wearing an OöfOöf in class!

Someone was spotted wearing an OöfOöf in class!

OöfOöf banner in heimbold

OöfOöf banner in heimbold

Bathroom(s)

This project began very sensitive; I wanted to discuss sexual assault and harassment on campus, which is quite personal to me. I came at the project initially from a point of anger, and conceptualized a piece where I would use polaroid pictures of places on campus to insinuate the viewer in the situation. I wanted to make it uncomfortable to be a bystander not doing anything. After a lot of discussion and thought, it became clear that the project needed to take a different form. I hadn’t consider that the piece would be upsetting to other people who have been assaulted and harassed on campus, and that it wouldn’t only be seen by those perpetuating the abuse or disaffected onlookers. So I abandoned the polaroids, but I held on to the idea of gendered harassment, as it felt too important not to tackle. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how I could appeal not only to the bystander and the perpetrator, but also to the affected parties, and how I could accomplish projecting a message that would be understood differently by different people. I looked a lot at Jenny Holzer’s work, and the ways that she abstracts ideas slightly into phrases and places them innocuously but obviously. The idea of humor was important in conceptualizing the form the piece would take, but ultimately abstraction became the most important element. I decided on posters, instructional, in the vein of the CPR instructional charts posted in school cafeterias. The gendered bathrooms in Heimbold seemed the perfect place for the project – the concept of a gendered bathroom is loaded politically and emotionally, and even a public bathroom of any kind can be extremely anxiety-inducing for someone who experiences sexual harassment. I found a hand-washing instructional poster and removed most of the text, finding the images useful for evoking the images of paranoia experienced both by those fearing harassment and those who are overly concerned with the genders of the people they share a bathroom with. I tried to draw attention to the ridiculous amount of thought people put into the gender of those around them and how that relates with their own gender – an angle I felt would be sympathetic enough to not be triggering for anyone but would still have the potential to cause someone to reflect on their own thoughts and actions. The actual process of installation terrified me – when I considered the placement of my piece, I put aside my own fears surrounding gendered and public bathrooms, but ultimately I was able to install. It was a positive experience, and gave me space to think, in relation to my project, about the arbitrary distinctions of spaces that are closed off by gender and class. The social constructions are baked in to the space, but that makes it easier to hijack.     clean-your-hands-hand-washing-poster

Space Hijack: Laundry

I began this piece thinking a lot about the idea of a home, or homeliness, and the ways in which Heimbold can be unhomely and unsettling. I began trying to take inspiration from images of the home as unsettling, taking a lot of inspiration from horror games, which is where I began to conceptualize a clothesline.   Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 4.25.16 PM     I wanted to create something that felt undeniably like part of the building, but at once felt like it should be hidden, and put it in plain sight. I looked a lot at Kitty Horrorshow’s Anatomy, which conceptualizes the house as a body, and wondered how I could create “veins” in Heimbold, personifying the space and imbuing it with life, even if that life was unsettling.   DybTdd     At this point in the project, I started to take in some images of Louise Bourgeois and Tracy Emin, and began to consider intimacy and clothing as a medium for homeliness. I settled on the idea of a clothesline, which brought together many of the concepts I was exploring in a way I was quite satisfied with. I also decided to use dryer sheets (hidden in the socks) to make the piece more encompassing. BRITAIN-ENTERTAINMENT-ART-AUCTION-EMIN     The real challenge of this piece began with installation. The placement in the building was important; it needed to be visible and obvious, obstructive but not so obstructive that it was a fire hazard. Tall people needed to be able to walk under it (a factor I overlooked at first, as no one in our class reaches 6 feet). This meant changing my intended install space a couple times, because a ceiling was too low, or because it was a spot that was too out of the way. The physical installation of the piece was also a challenge – the pulleys I had didn’t quite fit securely with either of the types of hooks I had bought, and I was terrified of my piece falling and hitting someone on the head. I ended up fastening them to the hooks with wire, which gave the line more flexibility, and it didn’t fall. I think the piece accomplished what I hoped it would accomplish – it changed the feeling of the space, and people were surprised by it. There was a sort of cheery relief in the people I spoke to about it; one student who passed by while I was finishing the installation gleefully asked if it was art or if I was avoiding paying the $1.50 for the school dryers. I think the fact that it resembled a familiar clothesline so distinctly, that it was alone in the space, and that the clothes were mostly intimates like socks and underwear worked together to make the project successful.   laundry I learned a lot working on this piece about how to use the placement and space around a piece to complement and add to it – my previous piece had far less focus on a physical installation, and I think the way I used space for this piece informed the way I used space for my conference piece and changed how I plan to use space in the future.

Visual Hijack: What makes the postmodern home so appealing?

My project began centered around this image: a pair of jeans, $425, covered in faux mud. The image was to me a representation of the ways in which more privileged social classes desire the aesthetics of the working class without desiring any of the hardships that go along with them. These jeans, for instance, represent the marketability of clothes that look worked in, and that people will pay ridiculous amounts of money to achieve this look rather than to actually be down working in the dirt for an hour or two.   jeans     I had initially conceived a project in which I took obviously used objects, such as dirty/distressed clothing, safety gear, work gear, etc. and sold them as if they were designer. I felt that this could create a reversal of the image of designer clothes made to look lived in. However, as I worked with this project, I found it incredibly difficult to pin down the visual/object based aesthetics of the working class in a way that was universally recognizable. I tried different approaches, but eventually the project moved in a direction that had tonally been done many times before – that of merely critiquing the ridiculous prices of designer items, rather than focusing on the commodification of working class aesthetics. I conceptualized a couple other ways I could get my point across – a box with supplies to distress jeans (dirt, rusty metal, sandpaper, paint), marketed with a sort of DIY twist; an online shop marketing things as thrifted or vintage rather than new designer. In an effort to pin down the image vocabulary I was working with, I tried to place the images in a sort of mock “museum” setting. I had hoped isolating the images in a white box would make it easier to figure out how to represent the concepts I was working with, but it proved to be just as difficult as it was in a non-isolated setting. This section of the project permutated to represent the unattainability of the American dream, and I took a more clarifying approach to this permutation, collecting images that helped represent my concept and clarify the ways in which I wanted to present my ideas.   postmodernhome5     I then ultimately presented my concepts through altered images, finding modern equivalencies with new technology and old advertisements. These images went through multiple permutations, but the theme of technology seemed to fit the project best. postmodernhome11     I think there were a few things in my way when I first began executing this project. I began with humor on my mind, but moved away from it when attempting to execute the piece. I tried to jump right in and create a physical piece of work, rather than using words or images to clarify my idea further than what I initially presented to the class. I also set up a barrier for myself when deciding that my visual hijack would take place in physical space, as physical projects require materials and space that I did not necessarily have the means to acquire, or that I did not know how to go about acquiring. When taking inspiration from our readings, I also felt torn between my agreement with Fairey and with Vallen’s critique of Fairey, which I think may have muddled my intent when it came to how to hijack my image.   postmodernhome22     Ultimately, I found clarity through achievable goals, a great deal of research, and realizing that my work didn’t have to agree entirely with Fairey or Vallen – I could take elements from both, in addition to our other readings.

Conference Project: Steal This Space – Post Mortem

  https://stealthisspace.wordpress.com/  Bezos Post header image   Economic Memes for Anti-Hegemonic Teens:  “Steal This Space” is a combination of reclaiming space on the internet from hegemonic corporations and spreading communicative content, or memes. In the spirit of Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book, “Steal this Space” is my tool for survival in the hegemonies that tell us what to think. I mean that certain institutions have invaded their ways into our daily lives so much that we cannot live without it. Back in the 60s, an invasion of privacy might have been salesman making commission by going door to door. Right now, I feel that an invasion of privacy is seeing advertisements catered to my searches and tastes on Facebook and Instagram. The internet tells me what is stylish and what products are in. They tell me what opinions are popular and whose side I should probably take in political elections. The hegemony ensures that we do not even realize that they’re there. It can be something as essential as Facebook—a corporation that has essentialized its way in our lives—where they provide both relevant news and memes. In a way, Facebook can inject an ideological influence on its users through the combination of advertisements, news, and memes. The hegemony is depicted in John Carpenter’s 1988 film They Live. In the film, the hegemony is made out to be a group of aliens who disguise themselves as the elite. The real hegemony performs in similar manners—with the elite being able to make others obey. To break free from the norm of using Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit as meme-sources I created Steal this Space—an alternative meme platform. In his manual, Hoffman assumed that “the reader already is ‘ideologically set,’ in that [they understand] corporate feudalism as the only robbery worthy of being called “crime,” for it is committed against the people as a whole.” As Hoffman wrote, “Smoking dope and hanging up Che’s picture is no more a commitment than drinking milk and collecting postage stamps.” This dialogue cannot be something kept indoors—it cannot be an outfit that you wear on Wednesdays every other week. This dialogue is more than a cultural unit, it is a combination of action and dialogue, which is not smoking dope and hanging up a bought poster of Che. To participate in revolutionary culture one must engage in both action and dialogue. Praxis validates a cultural movement through the engagement of dialogue and action. This subjective activity ultimately establishes the movement, and spreading of ideas. It is the philosophy of action that makes the object exist (Marx/Hegel/Gramsci). This collection, in the tradition of Hoffman and anti-authoritarian free speech, is largely a collection of memes. This is my way of praxis. Praxis through memes brings in Daniel Dennett, a philosopher, and cognitive scientist. In Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination, Dennett suggests that evolution can be applicable to ideas as well as genes. Organic molecules are subject to evolution by natural selection— and “intuitively [ideas] are identifiable cultural units” (Dennett). Richard Dawkins, the author of The Selfish Gene, calls these units memes. Memes are units of cultural transmission, or imitation— “examples of memes are tunes, ideas, catch-phrases, clothes fashions, ways of making pots or of building arches” (Dawkins). If someone finds relatable content on the internet, they will pass it on to their friends or family. The idea begins to propagate so that more and more people will hear about the idea. Dennett uses the slogan “A scholar is just a library’s way of making another library”, which can be narrowed down to suggest that the purpose of information is to be passed along. Currently, memes are simply the quick images we see on Facebook, Reddit, or Twitter. A meme can range from the corgibutts_official account on Instagram or Pepe the Frog memes on the alt-right abyss on 4chan. Angela Nagle, the author of Kill All Normies, states that “[The] culture of anonymity fostered an environment where the users went to air their darkest thoughts. Weird pornography, in-jokes, nerdish argot, gory images, suicidal, murderous and incestuous thoughts, racism and misogyny were characteristic of the environment created by this strange virtual experiment, but it was mostly funny memes” (Nagle 14). The internet holds spaces for anyone to share relatable content, whether you’re a Richard Spencer or Bernie Sanders supporter. Memes can be both relatable to some and not relatable others. Sometimes this shareable, relatable content isn’t universally supported by users of the Internet. For example, internet audiences may feel personally attacked hurtful memes that trivialize and invalidate conservative or progressive ideologies. Memes can take on troll-like behavior, which trivializes serious matters for the sake of a shareable joke. Nagle cites Mikhail Bakhtin to explain what internet trolls do, “Carnival laughter is the laughter of all the people. Second, it is universal in scope; it is directed at all and everyone, including the carnival’s participants. The entire world is seen in its droll aspect, in its gay relativity. Third, this laughter is ambivalent; it is gay, triumphant, and at the same time mocking, deriding.” (Nagle 36). This seems to be an explanation for the hurtful and joking nature of trolls. Hurtful content may be spread faster as they may contain images and rhetoric that is shared due to shock. Free speech is necessary—but it must be understood that turning personal issues into a joke is harmful. There is a quote by comedian Aparna Nancherla that I stand by, “If identity politics bores you then perhaps yours aren’t up for debate”. Nagle cites Gramsci, “Of all the Marxian and Marxoid schools of thought, Gramsci’s is perhaps the most influential today, placing media and culture at the center of political analysis and praxis in a mediated age after the decline of the old labour movement.” (Nagle 42). I agree— Gramsci’s theory of the hegemony is more prevalent than ever. Yet Nagle ultimately provides a criticism of both sides, suggesting, “The problem with the contemporary style of Tumblr-liberalism and a purely identitarian self-oriented progressivism that fermented in online subcultures and moved on to college campuses is that the very idea of winning people over through ideas now seems to anguish, offend and enrage this tragically stupefied shadow of the great movements of the left, like the one that began on campuses like Berkeley in 1964. Milo may be vanquished but not through a battle of ideas.” (Nagle 120). Nagle believes that there’s some sort of hysteria that halts dialogue—veering away from the spirit of counterculture movement. She calls out the toxicity of online culture, which can be a separate issue from identity politics. Twitter and Tumblr are just our means of communication, just as posters and guides were for Abbie Hoffman. Antonio Gramcsi wrote in his Prison Notebooks that “Each man, finally, outside his professional activity, carries on some form of intellectual activity, that is, he is a ‘philosopher,’ an artist, a man of taste, he participates in a particular conception of the world, has a conscious line of moral conduct, and therefore contributes to sustain a conception of the world or to modify it, that is, to bring into being new modes of thought”, or as Dennett would say to bring into being and spread cultural units (Gramsci). The age of industrialization and the standardization of education promoted people to engage in “so-called high culture in all fields of science and technology” (Gramsci). In these institutions people share a similar circle of ideas and memes—we are products of the culture that we consume. As I established earlier, we are susceptible to consuming any kind of information, especially attractive units of information like advertisements or celebrity fashions. To quote Dennett once more, he states, “I don’t know about you, but I am not initially attracted by the idea of my brain as a sort of dung-heap in which the larvae of other people’s ideas renew themselves, before sending out copies of themselves in an informational Diaspora. It seems at first to rob my mind of its importance as an author and a critic. Who is in charge, according to this vision— we or our memes?”. Steal This Space began with my desire to really learn Photoshop. I wanted to make memes and make them accessible to people not on Instagram or Facebook. I will always accept submissions at stealthisspace.memes@gmail.com.  

A Guide to ‘Sarah Lawrencing’ 2.0

fullsizeoutput_16f3My aim in revising this project was to receive a significantly increased amount of participation from viewers. I wanted this second version to be physically bigger in terms of font and poster size and in a space that would receive more traffic. I wrote ‘A Guide to Sarah Lawrencing’ in font size 600, and ‘Add Your Method’ in 500. I chose the yellow wall, a sort of hub in Heimbold because of its location next to the café. I hung up six copies of my poster, which I used in the first version, scattered throughout a section of the yellow wall. I put a piece of paper that gave further instructions right under ‘Add Your Method’. I hoped that placement would be natural for a viewer’s eye to read the titles and then look below to see the instructions. The cut-out letters originally were just because I did not have paper large enough to fit the whole title and I didn’t like the look of a bunch of 8.5 X 11 pieces of paper next to each other. However, I later realized that it added to the DIY nature of the project, made it arts & craft-like, and potentially convinced more viewers to participate because it was hand-made and not perfect. IMG_8704  At firfullsizeoutput_16f1st, I didn’t provide tape, sticky notes, or a sharpie due to the disappearing materials in the first version of the project. After a suggestion from the class, I put a sharpie and a roll of tape onto the string that I then hung up on a thumbtack. These materials never disappeared because they were much more clearly a part of the project. My peers have used everything from scraps of notebook paper, index cards, sticky notes, and even the tape I provided to write their methods. The texture of all these different materials is something else that adds to the DIY nature of the art and makes the project accessible. My peers were able to use whatever materials they had on them. IMG_8727We’ve talked a lot in class and in conferences about ensuring that one’s art does not hurt the feelings of viewers. I was doing pretty well, until this version of ‘Sarah Lawrencing’. During the last couple days that my art was installed, I found comments such as “Take this down” and “This is mean! I don’t like it!” on the yellow wall. These comments do not feel directed at ‘Sarah Lawrencing’, but at my art. I panicked when I first say them, severely worried that my vision wasn’t coming through in the installation. At the same time, my art is not original and does not come from me, in the sense that everything that I wrote on the poster, came from actions that I watched peers take. It came from a social culture at SLC. Maybe these comments were a defensive response to a reality that my peers do not want to face. Even if I had removed my installation earlier than I had planned (It was only up for a week anyway), ‘Sarah Lawrencing’ would still occur constantly on this campus. However, I also do not want viewers to see my art as mean or cruel, when in fact I see ‘Sarah Lawrencing’ as rude and mean, and therefore am attempting to combat it. There are clearly peers who do not understand my aim with this art, yet the majority of the sticky notes are positive, funny, and understand what I am asking and what my goal is. If the majority of viewers understand the art is that enough? I realize I cannot please everyone. However, there is a difference between someone not liking my art because it doesn’t suit their personal style versus someone finding my art offensive or rude. Angela has mentioned in class that in order to get someone to care about a serious issue, you must first make them laugh. I see this project as doing just that. Comments such as ‘Take this down’ seem to want me to speak about ‘Sarah Lawrencing’ in a serious manner, but I see that as the next step, not the first. IMG_8708One viewer went so far as to post an 8.5 X 11 piece of paper on top of one of my posters. They wrote, “Can we love and appreciate and enjoy this community of awesome people rather than be petty and endorse negativity <3 for this SLC community”. The placement of their commentary in intentionally on top of my poster, signifying that they see my poster as “endorsing negativity”. What this viewer is asking cannot happen until SLC combats ‘Sarah Lawrencing’. It’s interesting to see that these comments are less of an attack on ‘Sarah Lawrencing’ and more of an attack on my art. Do these viewers respond just as strongly when they witness ‘Sarah Lawrencing’? I highly doubt it. My posters were very clearly sarcastic and humorous. This commentary is all part of working in public space. Since, I am asking viewers to engage, it is at their discretion what to put up. IMG_8723There are still other viewers who put up messages on the polar opposite side of the spectrum. They wrote comments, such as ‘Pretend like I don’t care about y’all, cuz I don’t’ or ‘perhaps you shouldn’t take something as minor as not being “seen” so personally’. However, being seen is imperative to fostering community. My art was part of a much larger conversation on campus climate and social life.IMG_8710

A Guide to ‘Sarah Lawrencing’

fullsizeoutput_16f1

This project began with a poster that Andrea Gibson created, listing ‘Things that Don’t Suck’. They bring this poster to their poetry shows, leave sticky notes next to it with a sign asking audience members to add their own items to the list. I wanted to hijack this idea of a list with sticky notes. I settled on the idea of a project centered around ‘Sarah Lawrencing’, which speaks to the broader social climate on campus. I’ve complained about ‘Sarah Lawrencing’ and the broader social scene since I I started at SLC. I noticed that almost everyone I spoke with hated this culture also. I kept questioning why it still existed if some many students found it to be so negative. I felt that the idea of ‘Pillars of Support’, which is in Beautiful Trouble, spoke to this. The premise that large numbers of people comply with systems, forgetting that they have the ability to withdraw their consent from the system at any time. Virtually everyone I know, including myself, has ‘Sarah Lawrenced’ someone at least once, and yet we are the same people that complain about it. We complain about the action, yet we simultaneously comply with the action. I’ve noticed that once individuals enter a space, they mimic the social norms of that space and ‘Sarah Lawrencing’ is just another social norm.

Claire Bishop describes Tiravanija’s communal Thai meal exhibit, which he says only becomes art when viewers actively engage with the food and the artist, and other viewers. His main goal is to create a relationship between himself (the artist) and the viewer, so when the viewer is passive, this goal fails. This idea of collaboration and viewer participation was something I wanted to include in my art. I was nervous to create something that was completely reliant on other individuals, because the chances of the project failing were higher. However, I knew that if viewers did not engage with my art, then it would only speak to the very culture on campus that I was trying to change.

  IMG_8648

Originally, I wanted to be direct and serious. I planned to ask viewers straight-up, “Why do you ‘Sarah Lawrence’ your peers?”. I did not have any intentions of using humor, but after receiving feedback, I understood that this might turn viewers away. I planned for the entire project be made up of sticky notes, but during conference Angela suggested I draft a poster to center the project. I attempted to make the poster as ironic, humorous, and ridiculous as possible. I also wanted it to emulate Sarah Lawrence marketing. I used the same font and colors as official SLC pamphlets, and I put a picture of Westlands as the background.

I hung the poster near the T.V. that is next to the yellow wall. I had copies of the poster (flyers), sticky notes, and a sharpie that I placed on the ledge below the T.V. I put a sticky next to the poster that said ‘Add your own method for ‘Sarah Lawrencing’, and another one next to the flyers that said ‘Take one please’ with an arrow pointing to the copies of the poster. The next day, the sticky notes and sharpie were gone. After talking to members of the class, I realized that my peers read this sticky note as an instruction to take any of the items on the ledge, rather than just the flyers. I went back and wrote ‘Do not take any items off this ledge. They are part of an art project’. This had better luck but a couple days later my items once again disappeared.

IMG_8651

My peers did not participate in my art as much as I hoped for due to the location, disappearing materials, and ineffective communication. First, my installation space was not intended for art pieces. The ledge that had my materials is a space for functionality. It is where my peers place their laptops, books, etc. The wall is a space for posters, but my art was not just a poster, it was a poster that required participation. While this installation location did not spark participation, one advantage to this space was that people read my work as a regular SLC poster. My artwork blended in which further perpetuated the idea that this poster was one that a department of the college made. One individual even hung up another poster that overlapped with mine. Second, for the majority of the time that my project was up, the materials were gone. Third, even when the materials hadn’t disappeared, my peers did not understand what I was asking. My instructions were on sticky notes so they blended in with sticky notes that my peers had written on. Also, viewers would only know how to participate if they were less than a foot away from the poster due to the size on the font, sticky notes, and paper. While many of my peers did not add their own methods, I did see them take pictures of the poster or laugh at the poster.

IMG_8650

New Genres: Cultural Hijack – This Is No Fantasy (Jenny & Moyna)

3D model of a bed (made in Blender) ft. Jenny Holzer's "This is no Fantasy"

The 3D model of a bed (made in Blender) ft. Jenny Holzer’s “This is no Fantasy”

3D model of a bed (made in Blender) ft. Jenny Holzer's "This is no Fantasy"

3D model of a bed (made in Blender) ft. Jenny Holzer’s “This is no Fantasy” – final design

3D model of a bed (made in Blender) ft. Jenny Holzer's "This is no Fantasy"

3D model of a bed (made in Blender) ft. Jenny Holzer’s “This is no Fantasy”

Installation 1

Installation 1

Installation 3

Installation 2

Installation 2

Installation 3

  The original idea was to put a bed in the middle of Heimbold. It was supposed to be a comfy and inviting bed to give people space if they needed to sleep. However, it was difficult to find a frame, mattress, and other bedroom furniture to make the installation. To amend this issue we decided to create a bed in Blender, a 3D modeling software. It was an entire scene including a lamp with light, the bed, and a photo frame of Jenny Holzer’s This is no Fantasy. We chose This is no Fantasy since sleep is hard to come by due to all the work students do to contribute to our society. THE HEGEMONY!!!! It’s not even a real bed anymore – it became a projection rather than a real bed. It’s a fantasy bed. We decided to project the bed on a sheet but the sheet was too big for the size of the projection. It was pointed out that we should try using a pillowcase to stick with the bed theme. The pillowcase perfectly fit the size of the projection which kept it boxed in underneath the staircase. We decided to use a small, baby-sized projector to keep the space boxed in. The space became attainable because it’s something you can see but not touch – like sleep for college students. We put a rug under the pillowcase. In the projection, we used the texture of the rug as the floor and set up the rug to touch it. And we filled the small space under the stairs with prints of the texture. We also decided to take this multimedia idea further and bought jumbo cotton balls and created our own lampshade. If we would have had more time and it was not taken down we would have made the space more “roomy” by putting books, socks, and slippers! Another idea would be to put a little light inside the lampshade. It was hard to remember to turn off the projector, the installation was really like taking care of a pet ;) It was a wonderful experience to install and take care of a space hijack! It was also a collaborative project where the duties were split between two people, and creative ideas were shared and discussed, it was such a beautiful experience. The jumbo cotton balls were collectively our favorite part, it provided a feeling of comfort and coziness!    

Space Hijack: Pop-Up Marat/Sade

I always felt in control of the performance although i let the failures of my technology or the lack of audience. This hijack I felt was successful and adding a bit of weirdness in Heimbold that wasn’t already there.

My piece consisted of two facets. I first facet projected the film Marat/Sade directed by Peter Brook upon a wall in the lobby of Heimbold. The second is my improvising and character I developed. My character was a senile old host of a movie, opera, or musical of a forgotten time and place. I go in with the intention of exploring the themes of memory and performance in relation to the film. I discarded upon the performance proper because I wanted my interactions with the guest to arrive organically. I spend my time asking people their names and what they think of the show but deliberately forgetting what they said. Doing gave the audience moments to play make believe, thus destabilize the continuity of their identity to a certain extent. By asking them their understanding of the show (considering no one could hear them), I gave people an opportunity to explore the weirdness of the moment and give them space to perform if they wish.

The improv in the piece, I feel, did wonders to explore the themes I set out initially. Paralleling the project film Marat/Sade, I encouraged the audience to perform the memory of the piece’s moment. If memory is something communicate between people, how much of that communication is performed (read: manipulated)? The film and the play its based on revels in this mistrust of history to explore the question of Revolution, but with my performance I attempted with mixed and unknown results a micro-Revolution. This micro-Revolution was a space and time where identity, memory, etc. was always a choice and a not serious one as that. This is inspired by my love the carnivalesque works of Carnival-Protests of CIRCA and the theory of Carnival.

BAN!: Conspiracy in the Age of “Free Speech”

Statement: A visual hijack is when an artist uses the visual strategies of an oppressive image, or target, to re-establish new ideas that are counter or detrimental to the system that the oppressive image upholds. Part 1: Setup
      • Choosing Target
        1. Choosing a target requires a target that is not only choose-able but workable. There are many images and visuals that are oppressive to people, but a good target is one that is both flexible to change and iconic enough that this idea-override will be a challenge.
        2. For this hijack, I chose Breitbart. Breitbart is a very popular and inflammatory conservative news company run in the United States, born from Andrew Breitbart, a former journalist at the Drudge Report (Phelan, 2016). It is perhaps the face of conservative news in the US and is extremely well-known by name and persona.
      • What Makes Breitbart a Good Target
        1. Much of their content is, definitively, oppressive to the artist.
        2. Follows Daniel Dennett’s Rules for Evolution (Dennett, 127) (and therefore, something that will stick around)
“Heredity or replication” (Dennett, 127)
Breitbart is a very successful replicator, meaning that its single form (Breitbart news story) is both easily repeated not just in craft, but in idea and memory. There is something that sticks in one’s brain and the brain of others (Dennett, 129) to reaffirm the idea of Breitbart as a creator of conservative news. Their consistent updating also reminds us of this. The name and persona of Breitbart extend beyond the news story. If one were to say, Breitbart is going to be at the rally!, one would not presume a series of newspapers to stand up and speak. The company is an idea beyond its own function, and that idea is replicated both by its function and the function of other people.
  “Variation” or “an abundance of elements” (Dennett, 127)
The elements in this project included the design of Breitbart, a screen capture from Breitbart the day after the election of the 45th president of the United States (Wayback, 2016), and a screen capture of The Drudge Report on July 11th, 2001, the closest pre-9/11 capture available (Wayback, 2001). Breitbart has many words on its page, being a news company. Many of these words are topical buzzwords and naturally have their own ideas and feelings attached to them. For this project, I also used language from the Drudge Report, Breitbart’s predecessor, to increase the elements available. Drudge Report, pre-9/11, has a lot of pre-contemporary language and distinct linguistic catches that look jarring beside the more typical contemporary ones.
  “Differential ‘fitness’” (Dennett, 127)
Breitbart produces several articles with repetitive buzzwords to create a public reaction to an idea, using the same model of “fitness” (Dennett, 127). By recreating the same elements in varying orders with different emphasis, Breitbart employs the same system as most memes to create ‘new’ content. Therefore, the elements in Breitbart writing as well as Drudge Report headlines are already packaged and ready for remix. Using large or small quotes from the sites creates levels of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ within the paper, by splicing common ideas and repairing them with a Frankenstenian sense of culture. When placed together as a cohesive piece, it is difficult to establish one clear reality. breitbart drudge
      • Defining Working Systems
        1. Breitbart, as a news source, is very popular: why? - Gramsci suggests that there are two kinds of “intellectuals” (Gramsci 113), those who are naturally “organizers” (ibid) and “organically” (ibid) rise to lead people, and those who “[emerge] into history out of the preceding […] structure” (Gramsci 114). - Breitbart, ironically, is the latter spinning itself to seem the former. Unlike the classic bootstrap American narrative, Breitbart did not rise from the American public just as conservatives needed it, but was an egg waiting to hatch for many years. - Andrew Breitbart left The Drudge Report in 2005 to begin Breitbart Media (Phelan, 2016). Gaining popularity from its predecessor and from Breitbart’s reputation as a catchy journalist for Drudge Report, the news source became a household name after getting famous with their report Big Government in 2009 (Phelan, 2016).
        2. But why was their internet popularity so fast and effective? - Ken Layne says about Andrew Breitbart’s reporting style at Drudge Report, “just choosing links and writing a great headline and placing it on the page — is a real art form” (Phelan, 2016). - Mark Dery, a web scholar, writes that the “one-liner” is an intensely effective online format (Dery, 2). - Breitbart gained popularity because it was easy to read and was a “unique brand of lightweight, gossamer junk” (Phelan, 2016) while attacking “intellectual scaffolding” (ibid). - The same short form use of repetitive, easy to understand elements in different positions allowed for Breitbart to become one of the most iconic conservative news sources of our time. By not requiring much attention but having a high malleability, Breitbart was allowed to produce and reproduce easily. - This success gives it authority, and the authority mixed with replication causes it to “‘produce’ intellectuals” (Gramsci, 117) who, in turn, give it authority.
        3. How do you hijack this? - When online, there is a sort of anonymity; personas are built on digital footprint rather than their identity. “People are judged on the content of what they say,” (Dery, 2) and who they are comes from that action. > Use the Breitbart name and likeness to create and alternate persona that reflects a facet of why it is oppressive - There are three key components to target for Breitbart: its replicability, its notoriety, and its credibility. Although I could have done a project on how the articles describe Dennett’s fitness, or a project showing the hypocrisy of promoting fringe news from a singular large company, I chose to attack the credibility.
      • What defines the hijack? - For publications that were notoriously unreliable, my initial idea was simple headlines with incorrect photos. However, this evolved into a more distinguished metaphor: using the conspiracy magazine. - Conspiracy magazines are known for false, outlandish, and usually fabricated information. This seemed like the perfect reflection of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon. It also enabled me to use the integrity of the Breitbart name against them. - The same brevity of headline and buzzword tactic is used in both conspiracy magazines and the Breitbart articles, but how they are judged is different. The artifice is similar, but the value is different because of reputation. - Like a news company, the magazine implies replication (multiple issues). This metaphor helps to uphold the same replicative property as Breitbart, the news company. - Because I was attacking the credibility of Breitbart, I made an active effort to use its other two major strategies in my favor, so that my piece would appear more connected to my target.
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  • Magazine Building
    1. First Prototype - Most of the work for the magazine occurred in Adobe InDesign. I used Photoshop to create backgrounds for the magazine, mimicking the spray paint design of Breitbart’s official website. The three focal colors (orange, gray, and black) were taken directly from screenshots of the website. Not having worked in InDesign prior, this was quite the adventure, but the program proved to be more friendly than unfriendly! - I deeply wanted the newspaper to be large and unruly when read, so the paper size was 11×17 inches. This proved correctly impossible to handle when printed. - Before designing the layout of the piece, I compiled several references for ‘old’ conspiracy magazines covers. Paranoia proved both the easiest to find and the best representation of a variety of covers, featuring image- and text-heavy covers. I then emulated the closely-oriented/busy layout of the covers, which felt surprisingly easy and natural. - Most limitations were in the composition of the magazine format, but the metaphor of a conspiracy magazine was a fun and easily mimicable. The limits guided the piece more than restricted it. - My original goals for this prototype were to play with the ideas of headlines from Drudge Report only, with images from public web using keywords from headlines, using only the design from the Breitbart website. - Titles for the magazine varied, trying to describe the fake authorship; options were: Breitbart American Men, Breitbart American News, and Breitbart News.

image_6483441 (4) image_6483441 (2)image_6483441 (1)

  2. Second Prototype     – The second prototype was modified to include more text: it now included Breitbart’s   contemporary headlines. This lead to more dense text and smaller ‘packets’ of words and phrases for use, in order to disguise the headlines. The newer words allowed also for more play and topical humor, which felt easily accessible     – There were also more images, to allow for a more gentle visual experience. The title that I settled on was BAN: Breitbart American News     – Lastly, this week I finally created the BreitbartAN Facebook page which is listed on the back of the magazine, and which only has posted the screen captures of the Breitbart and Drudge Report websites.

image_6483441 (5)

    1. Third Prototype/Final - The third prototype had more focus on ‘public’ interaction: I added ‘viewer of the week’ photo, a mail in portion of the magazine, and the Facebook icon that is recognizable on so many websites today. These changes work with helping the magazine to appear connected and “making the world a little smaller,” (Fairey, 3). - Again, the design was altered to make the piece more legible and move better across the page. There were plenty of other design notes after this prototype, however, they did not make the final for time issues. Still, it shows that rarely is any design perfect!
For Access: PROTO EDIT
  • Installation
    1. The Inaugural Year: Celebrate Sarah Lawrence - The purpose of this event, according to the Sarah Lawrence website, was to “highlight dance, music, theatre, and writing performances and readings; science demonstrations and posters; displays by student visual artists; Sarah Lawrence programs beyond the campus; Graduate Programs; student publications; dessert reception and the opportunity to have your photo taken with our college mascot, Godric the Gyphon” (Sarah Lawrence, 2017). - The event itself was spread throughout the first two floors of the Heimbold Visual Arts Center and several outdoor staging areas. - Many alumna, board members, and donors were present as well as students to blend in with. I chose this event because not only did is present a group who was not typical to the college, but it also presented a group who was a risk for the college to interact with. These people also likely had a knowledge of what Breitbart was, and perhaps might even have an opinion on the piece.
    2. Distribution - Originally, I planned to wait at a singular table and distribute 15 printed copies of the magazine as a repeated action; however, due to how few people were in the area, I began to move throughout the event spaces and hand out papers. - A friend and photographer, Khalifah Jamison, took photos of people reading the magazine and of myself handing them out. - Surprisingly, it was very hard to wait for people to take the magazine. This was remedied with a much easier “would you like a newspaper”/”would you like a magazine.”
    3. Gallery - At one point, I entered Barbara Walter’s Gallery. At the suggestion of Jamison, I stood in middle of an exhibit portion so that it appeared I was there as a part of the exhibit. Many people saw me enter the gallery, however, many more did not. - I passed out several newspapers within the gallery, this time without speaking or with as few words as possible. Many people took the time to very much study and read the paper, some even looking at the art behind me for answers. Several groups of people read the paper and returned it, thinking that it was a permanent part of the exhibit.
    4. Reactions - Most people received the magazine with confusion. Twice, people laughed. One person rejected the magazine upon seeing the Breitbart name, but their companion took the paper. - A few people held onto the magazine, more people secretively than visibly. This leads me to believe that although they may have wanted to read it, they were ashamed of the Breitbart name. However, there were some who openly displayed the Breitbart logo as they carried it.

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        – The only people who carried it visibly, from who I noticed, were white men.
  • Conclusions
    1. Did This Work - I think so; many of the people who talked to me about the magazine asked questions such as “who did this?” and “is this real?” - The purpose was to destabilize the view of ‘credibility’ of Breitbart name and source. By making people unsure about whether Breitbart had actually published a nonsense conspiracy magazine, I feel accomplished and that my ideas translated correctly.
    2. SURPRISINGLY, the Facebook page backfired. - The Facebook page has had a surprising amount of interaction, but it does not seem to be anyone related to Sarah Lawrence College or from Yonkers/Bronxville area. There was one person who interacted with the page from Yonkers. - The page has been tagged in links to an actual Breitbart article. - The page has been sent message about a conservative activist in trouble.
    3. The messages replicated differently online versus with the magazine. - The Facebook page only had the untouched content from the Drudge Report and Breitbart, meaning that there was no hijack necessarily present. Therefore, posting it online without the finished product meant that it only replicated the Breitbart name and likeness without the critique of the final product. This was not only unintentional, but a failure to consistently represent the product cross-platform. - In this case, the Breitbart name outshone the content itself and proved too strong to feasibly hijack, and in fact hijacked the project itself.
    4. Although the credibility of Breitbart was put into question by this piece, the reach was small due to the print nature and the institution of Breitbart remains mostly unaffected.
  • Future work
    1. I would like to use the growing (?) online basis to replicate the short form conspiracy publication, but instead as a consistently published online publication. This would require continuing to find new elements from Breitbart and Drudge Report as well as choosing the set for these elements (ie. parameters for what screen grabs to use).
    2. An alternative to creating my own conspiracy work would be to use the same growing online basis to link to screenshots of actual conspiracy news websites. Again, the Breitbart name and image have proven very strong within this project, and the continual use of this header would stand as the backbone and reference for this project.
    3. Lastly, perhaps the best thing to do is re-research more forms of working on removing credit from organizations or change my perspective on this project entirely. The first way is not necessarily the best way, and more reading and viewing cannot hurt!
    End Notes “The Inaugural Year: Celebrate Sarah Lawrence.” Sarah Lawrence College. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://www.sarahlawrence.edu/news-events/events/2017-2018/2017-10-05-inaugural_event_cele-eid217579.html. “DRUDGE REPORT.” Wayback Machine. July 11, 2001. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20010711064315/http://www.drudgereport.com:80/. Dennett, Daniel C. “Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination.” The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 48, no. 2 (Spring 1990): 127-35. Accessed October 15, 2017. doi:10.2307/430902. Dery, Mark. Flame Wars: Discovery of Cyberculture. Durham and London, UK: Duke University Press, 1994. Fairey, Shepard. “Sticker Art.” Obey Giant. May 2003. Accessed October 16, 2017. https://obeygiant.com/essays/sticker-art/. Gramsci, Antonio. “Antonio Gramsci.” In AN ANTHOLOGY OF WESTERN MARXISM, edited by Roger Gottlieb, 112-19. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1989. Nussbaum, Daniel, Joel B. Pollak, Jeff Pooro, and Neil Munro. “Breitbart News Network.” Wayback Machine. November 08, 2016. Accessed October 18, 2017. https://web.archive.org/web/20161108073830/http://www.breitbart.com/. Phelan, Matthew. “Building the House of Breitbart.” Jacobin Magazine. November 05, 2016. Accessed October 15, 2017. https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/11/breitbart-news-drudge-alt-right-koch-trump/.  

YouTube Beauty Video: Crème de Nature

Around three years ago, I came across with series of videos on YouTube called Nature Is Speaking. These videos are voiced by famous people such as Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Kevin Spacey and many more, as if they are the nature itself. (I’ll put a link down below.) these videos were telling the viewer how we were destroying the nature but also reminding that mother nature has harbored way more powerful creatures than humans in the past. The video made me think what have I done in my life for nature as a product of commercial society. Of course, because I live in the boundaries of a social group and use social media, I was thought to believe that some products are better than others. In the current years, there has been a social awareness around the world for natural issues. People realize that all the harmful and chemical products they have been putting in to their bodies have a side effect. For this reason, there has been a switch from chemical to natural sources. For instance, in beauty industry while for many years in most of the creams, shampoos and other indulgences paraben was a highly used product, there is a shift to palm oil. So, in my Hijack, I wanted to hijack the promotion of this change from chemical to natural. Although I cannot deny, it is a good thing for our body, and health, I am against the publicity of these products as if it is not destroying the nature and the habitat of animals. For the first class I had a sketch of a face something similar to a face filled with worms and leaves. I was inspired by Italian painter Arcimboldo’s Spring. However, in the class discussion I heard very encouraging commentsarcimboldospring. My classmates made me realize that my draft wasn’t actually hijacking the image but almost empowering the product. Then while discussing my product in the class someone brought the idea of YouTube videos where beauty gurus (using this term loosely) review beauty products on their channels. So, for the second week, I actually created a product with food coloring, oreos and parsley trying to make it look like an “organic” product. In the cream I created, the red food-dye represents the blood of the animals that die because their habitat is destroyed. Oreos and parsley symbolizes the nature. For the design of the product, I chose simple colors white cream boxIMG_2635 with pink sticker. The name of the brand is italicized to represent the elegance of the company and put few leaves to show that it is eco-friendly. To emphasize the elegance of the company, instead of choosing an English name, I chose a French name, Crème de nature. For the video, I met with a friend of mine, Cristina, while I was introducing the cream, saying how eco-friendly it was, Cristina was putting on the cream on her body. Since the cream was red, the spectator could see the effects of the cream at that instant. So, I believe my cream does make people more aware (I hope) by using shock and disgust. When I showed my product to the class, the class mainly liked it (I hope) Angela suggested that I should also have a design for the lid of the cream as well, and have a fancy decoration for the presentation. So, for my final presentation, I brought up some glitters and a panel, that looks like mirror. creamlogo            Overall, I really had fun while doing this project. I think I really had chance to express my thoughts on industry by doing art.

Cultural Hijack: What I Learned From my Failed Kekistan Hijack

For my hijack i attempted to subvert the 4chan meme, the Kekistan flag. The history of the meme can be found here (http://bit.ly/2xCg1Tg), but why I chose it as my target was because it used by contemporary white supremacist and new fascist movements, currently known as the “alt-right.” To rob the power of Kekistan, my hijack must undercut its replication. To do require two somewhat conflicting processes. First it would educate the vast public of its ideological associations as a dog whistle. Secondly the hijack would interfere with the meme’s replication so it would not be used again the same way a joke dies when it is told too many times badly. The latter intention was inspired by Dennet’s “Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination” and how they reproduce themselves.

The iteration I used to hijack explicitly references Nazi imagery such as the Iron Cross and the three lines. In my attempt I used learned how to Gimp, which I learned for this project, to alter the image in a variety of ways, including fusing the flag with the Nazi flag and incorporating Lisa Frank iconography into it.

Unfortunately I came across several problems in attempting to subvert it.

  • The meme is steeped in a history of shitposting, so my first attempt to subvert through exaggeration, such as adding “Nazism is My Passion.” This led to an unclear message in the image, only affirming and promoting neo-Nazi idea;s for those unfamiliar with the original’s associations to Nazism.
  • The next drafts reference Lisa Frank’s colorful designs and it’s image connections to Nazi flags in order to the achieve my goals. Unfortunately, it still did not achieve the critical tone that is needed to be a hijacked. Instead the image just seemed to be another reiteration of the meme.
From this experience I learned that in order to visual critique and hijack coded memes and racist imagery, it must not incorporate the images. In order to hijack the meme, I must create a counter meme that educates and exposes those who use it for malicious means or figure out another way to bring hijack a coded meme.  I also learned how to use Gimp for this project and have that skill under my belt. 

It’s A Match! – Hijacking the Romanticization of Ideologies

Satya_and_Che Ayn_and_Pamela Brian_and_PeterBen_and_Bernie
A meme was the best source to visually hijack for me. In Daniel Dennett’s Memes and the Exploitation of Imagination, he writes that “in a struggle for attention, the best ideas win, according to the principle of the survival of the fittest, which ruthlessly winnows out the banal, the unimaginative, the false”. The best ideas are the most creative, pretty, and dynamic. The best ideas are also visually appealing. The best ideas are memes (sometimes). A meme is a cultural unit – or ideas that leap from brain to brain. And only the most visually enticing ones last as memorable units. I personally agree with another statement made by Dennett: “I don’t know about you, but I am not initially attracted by the idea of my brain as a sort of dung-heap in which the larvae of other people’s ideas renew themselves, before sending out copies of themselves in an informational Diaspora.”. The information in our brains is not really our own but what is adapted from units in other people’s brains. We collect the best ideas from the brains around us. Then we replicate them to sustain ideas. My visual hijack shows how we are influenced by ideologies. I used a meme as my medium in order to replicate my own message.
 
I began a campaign using one that already existed: “It’s a Match” from Tinder. There are various humorous ones like the relatable girl matching with food. My first prototype had Che Guevara with a white woman. My idea was to show that Che’s revolutionary views are idealized by young people today. The romanticization is represented by the millennial branding of Tinder. The use of the image of the white woman seemed wrong, though. After critique from our Cultural Hijack class, I figured maybe this woman wouldn’t be someone to romanticize Che. Maybe this woman would idealize someone like Ayn Rand. A Che-match would be more of someone like a Ben or a Satya. Someone a little hyper-masculine yet progressive. I decided to use Bernie Sanders in a variation of the original prototype. However, after some critique, I didn’t want to alienate and antagonize the left. I found images of Ayn Rand and Peter Thiel for more variations of the original prototype. In total there are 4 variations, but I had hoped to create more – one with Nietzsche and another with Milton Friedman.
 
My overall goal with the images was to critique the romanticization of ideologies. It is easy for people, including myself, to idealize figures and ideas. Antonio Gramsci suggests that “Each man, finally, outside his professional activity, carries on some form of intellectual activity, that is, he is a ‘philosopher,’ an artist, a man of taste, he participates in a particular conception of the world, has a conscious line of moral conduct, and therefore contributes to sustain a conception of the world or to modify it, that is, to bring into being new modes of thought.”. Everyone can think critically about the world in whatever way they want to. But everyone is also influenced, to some extent, by organized ideas. Ideas can always be recycled, reevaluated, and replicated. Gramsci states that each person is a philosopher participating in a particular conception of the world. But what are we ultimately influenced by? Who is influencing our views?
 
After creating the final drafts, I bought adhesive paper and printed them out as stickers. I handed a few to all of my friends and put some up in various places on campus. Sadly, one of the stickers I’d placed in Heimbold was taken down prior to a campus event in the space. Aa few of my stickers popped up on social media (like Snapchat) and some friends even said they’d seen them around. Overall as a hijack, I think it was a success because it had people laughing. The Bernie sticker seemed to be the most popular. My image didn’t hijack the original image (the It’s a Match meme) but it did use it as a medium for self-critique.

For my visual hijack I hijacked typical heteronormative pictures from the 50’s-70’s and made them queer by replacing the straight couples with lesbian couples. I choose pictures from these time periods that I thought encapsulated the time frame best. I was seeking to hijack the kinds of pictures that first come to mind when one thinks about straight couples from these time periods. I wanted to hijack these pictures because I feel as though there is little to no representation of lesbian couples especially in the 50’s and so on in the 60’s and 70’s. I think it’s very important to have representation, it’s not like lesbian couples did not exist then, but without representation and evidence we are erasing them.

In the beginning of my project I was working with the famous V-Day kiss picture. I thought this was a perfect all encompassing image. I photoshopped an image of a women kissing to the original photo.

Copy of df

In crit, a discussion of the original picture being connected to sexual assault came up and imagine immediately became unuseable. If one person has that connotation then others will too and I do not want my hijacked imagine that is supposed to present love and celebration to be linked to sexual assault. During the same crit, the class and I brainstormed other possible ideas and from this, the idea of hijacking heteronormative pictures from the 50’s-70’s was born. A classmate also mentioned that I should check out the Sarah Lawrence College Archives for pictures of the faces that will be on the new images. I had conference with Angela the next day and we brainstormed even more and decided that I needed to look at A LOT of pictures from these time periods before I decide exactly which ones I want to hijack. From this conference the idea of a calendar was born. The symbol of the calendar is important to me. The idea of time passing and these women being there, still being here they have always been here. I love that the calendar is saying look! “Look at these couples, doing normal everyday things, they are being celebrated for being themselves.” After this conference I looked at probably a hundred different heteronormative images from the 50’s-70’s in order to get a clear picture of exactly what I wanted to hijack. I started editing prototypes to the final images.

couple_books

I went to the Sarah Lawrence College Archives department and they let me look at the pictures they had from those time periods and more. I flagged the imagines I liked and they sent they to me as pdf’s a couple days later. Then I started making the calendar. I had a rough start in the beginning. I did not know exactly what I wanted the calendar to look like. I also spent a lot of time finding the dates for 1960. I wanted the calendar to hypothetically be from the year 1960.

calendar_milkshake

After further thought I decided I wanted the calendar to be use able. I continued editing many images in order to get the ones I liked best   After another crit in class I decided to redesign my calendar layout, and create a few more month themed imges. Ex; halloween and christmas. I included names for all the couples and the calendar itself has Christian,  Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic holidays for the year 2017-2018. I also decided to use color and picked a very distinct yellow.

MarchF

This is one of my finished calendar pages. I will be selling the calendars sometime in the next few weeks in Heimbold.

By the middle of my project I realized that I was becoming so incredibly empowered by creating a calendar full of lesbian couples. That surprised me more than I expected. I was also surprised when I started to get better at Photoshop. And I started getting excited to edit my images and wanted to spend more and more time working with Photoshop so that my images would look better.

In some of my images it is clear that the image has been messed with/edited but in others it is not as obvious. I did this purposely but also not at all. In the process of becoming better at photoshop I figured out how to blend pictures better and what tools could help camouflage the layering. But In some cases I liked how it looked when it was more obvious the picture had been messed with.

Throughout the entire project I was influenced by Gramsci. He introduced the idea of hegemony, this was the first time I had heard of this concept.  “They do not know what they are doing, but they are nonetheless doing it” This quote spoke to me. It stirred up ideas of how back in these time periods it was normal to not see displays of gay and lesbian love. All of these “typical” images I hijacked were created because people thought that was how it was supposed to be, but they had no idea what they were feeding into! According to Gramsci hegemony is the only way to control an entire nation, politics is not enough. I loved the idea of how this is where we come in, to show the counter image and explain how they are brainwashed. The film “They Lived” influenced me as well, the idea that with my project I am giving people goggles to see what in the past they were not seeing. A quote of Dennett’s that stuck with me “survival of the culture is not the best of the best” this is one that reinforced my idea. Images of lesbian couples did not survive in the popular culture but that does not mean that the images that did survive are the best. This encouraged me to create the images that are the best of the best.

A Reworking of Aunt Jemima aunt-jemima-logo I first heard about the racist history of Aunt Jemima in Alwin Jones’ Black Life Matters lecture last year. This year, Komozi Woodward also brought up this history in his lecture. He explained that the advertising used was that of a ‘slave in a box’. After brainstorming a list of possible images, I settled on Aunt Jemima. Originally, I wanted to remove the smile and pearl earring, swap in a wig, and change the coloring of her face so it wouldn’t look so light and glowy. The lighting made her appear like she was wearing makeup. I wanted to alter the image to create one more closely aligned with the realities of slavery. My second idea was to take an image of Georgina, one of the lead characters from Get Out, and make that the new Aunt Jemima image. This option felt like the easy way out, the way to get around using Photoshop, a program I had no previous experience with, so instead I returned to my first idea. I spent hours trying to learn the tools of Photoshop and apply them to my photo. I would often try to use a tool and the result would look nothing like the tutorial I had learned it from. I emailed the image to myself but lost layers of the photo in the process. I eventually learned from a friend that I needed a flash drive and I needed to save the image as a tiff. 1 The next class was coming up quickly and I did not have an image I was satisfied with. I had a vision in my head, but I could not figure out how to make my idea appear on my computer screen. Two days before this class met again, I realized that if I were to go through with my first idea, I would be creating an image that already exists. I would be exchanging Aunt Jemima with the image of slavery that you would find in a Black history textbook. Both my original and second ideas relied on a pre-existing image. I realized my first idea was just another easy way out. At this point, I had removed the pearl earrings, and all of Aunt Jemima’s hair (in preparation for a wig). I had eased some of the ‘smile lines’ and turned the image into Black and White. I planned to leave my image as is and ask for assistance from the class. I saw the current version of my image as pure trash. In fact, I almost deleted it before class. Shockingly, I received overwhelming amounts of praise from the class, so I made some minor changes, and then decided it was final. I printed the image onto sticker paper and cut them out by hand with scissors. I then went to a few different stores including CVS, True Value Drugs, and ACME. I couldn’t find Aunt Jermima products at the first two, but I placed the stickers over the original Aunt Jermima images at ACME. Aunt Jermima’s image is on two different spots on the box of the pancake mix. My sticker was a bit too small for one of the spots but fit perfectly on the other spot. 2     I was heavily inspired by Shephard Fairey’s Sticker Art and Mark Vallen’s critique of Shephard Fairey. Although I appreciated the replicability and accessibility of stickers that Fairey described, I lost respect for him after reading Vallen’s critique. My impression was that Fairey was quite self-absorbed. Vallen described that after Fairey was busted for plagiarism of a White Panther image, Fairey made a joke about it and said “I wish all my busts ended that well” (Vallen, 6). Although Fairey alters images to create something new, he begins with a pre-existing image. Fairey for example, took an image advocating for the liberation of Puerto Rico, took in out of the context of Puerto Rico and into the context of the Obey slogan. This isn’t inherently plagiarism. This is similar to what I did in altering the image of Aunt Jemima. However, Fairey does not give credit to any of the original artists. Fairey’s view on race and graffiti culture also rubbed me the wrong way. “I was somehow convinced graffiti was something you had to be born into, like a Black or Hispanic mafia” (Fairey, 2). The use of the term mafia seems like an insult. Fairey fails to mention that graffiti is a part of Hip-Hop culture which is a piece of Black and Hispanic culture. If he is going to engage in graffiti culture, which some would argue he should not be doing at all, then he must understand where that culture comes from. Also, it makes sense that he does not feel like he will fit into this culture, because it is not his. I hijacked an image that mocked the conditions of slavery. I did not use humor in my image, because the original image used humor and it did not work. It is what made the image so offensive. Another reason I rejected my original idea was because the image of slavery is shown so often that individuals become desensitized to it. It is also not my place to put that trauma on display. Additionally, my final image, which peers described as ‘ghostly’, better communicated my message which was that individuals need to re-think the implications of Aunt Jemima. The ghostly nature drew on inspiration from Get Out, but did not steal a pre-existing image. Throughout this project, I had to figure out which of my ideas would communicate my message while maintaining originality.

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