Category Archives: Digital Tools for Artists

Space Oddity

  Stars The first song I downloaded for this class, with the goal of using it in an After Effects sequence, was Debussy’s Claire De Lune. I find Claire De Lune to be one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I also have an emotional attachment to the piece, as I once had a professor recommend it to me during a conference. It wasn’t the recommendation that struck me, it was the fact that he recommended a song I had loved all my life but never knew the name of. I chose to use Claire De Lune for my Space Oddity studio prompt as I felt it exemplifies the feeling of movement through time and space. The emotion that runs through the notes of the piano mimics the feeling of wind and evolution, of travel and growth, loss and struggle. The song is booming with inspiration. This was both a gift and a curse, as the song articulates so much emotion and movement, I found it difficult to do the piece justice. I found I wasn’t creating images and articulating movements that could adequately express the emotion that exudes through the piece. I had an idea in my head of what this sequence could look like and unfortunately my final result does not necessarily encompass what I had hoped to achieve. Sketch 02 Sketch 01 I started off with a rough idea of what my sequence would contain. I knew I wanted to have a piece that traveled from the earth towards the sky. I also knew I would use flowers as a kind of guide throughout the journey. I was thinking about the way a lost balloon floats up into the sky, seemingly on an endless journey through space. I wanted to achieve that concept with flowers, earth’s creation, as the balloon, continuously appearing throughout the journey. Flowers I was happy with the environment I created at the start of the piece. I was especially pleased with the end result of the clouds and the sun. I chose to go with a very geometrical look, inspired by the PBS cartoons I watched as a child. This was both influenced by my love of early 2000s children’s shows and the fact that geometrical shapes are very approachable for a relatively new user of After Effects. Clouds Things got bumpy as I added more content to my sequence. I became overwhelmed with the delayed playback. I had never worked with such a dense After Effects composition. This delayed playback made it difficult for me to get a sense of timing and movement. Going back, I should have been more diligent about utilizing my music markers. I used them at the beginning of the project and then started cutting by ear, but once my playback got so delayed it became difficult to cut to the notes of the song. I am satisfied with the way the piece comes to a close. I wanted to create the illusion of an alternate universe mimicking reality with subtle differences. I replaced the sun with my Photoshop illustration of an orange planet. I am also happy with the way the magnified fractal combined with the kaleidoscope, gives the illusion of evolving static, I found this to be a nice reiteration of the space theme.

Static

I struggled to incorporate the loop command. I used it towards the end of the sequence when the flowers bob back up into frame. The challenge I found in the loop tool adequately sums up the struggle I experienced throughout this project. I found myself planning out the piece in accordance to the effects I had to incorporate rather than create with a plan to implement the required effects at the end. For future studio prompts, I will be sure to look at the requirements as elements I need to include in the end result, rather than aspects that dictate the sequence. I wish I could have created something with a little more emotion. I think if I had gone further with my storyboarding and stayed closer to the beats of the music I might have achieved a more emotional piece.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

 I decided to use my own brain as a base to make this series. My brain is always a source of contention and release. I chose to really focus on the negative with two of my GIFs hoping the third might make up for it as a small homage to the parts of me I truly love. (I never like anything to be 100% dark–even the most difficult minds aren’t.)

Evil_Iz_Gif2  

In my first GIF, Evil Self, which was from an earlier assignment. I began to add things halfway through that would make it scary. When I glitched the code it made my first self-portrait (the one in the middle) whited out and electric. It reminded me a bit of why certain aspects of Undertale were terrifying to me. The fights in the game are black and white and due to my sensory deficiency disorder I react very negatively to bright and white light. (Which is unfortunate because everyone in the art and photography communities seem to love it!) I added the static for that reason. To me, static is a fast animation of white and black attacking itself. Or, that’s what my SDD makes it feel like. What this all results in is that my Evil Self Portrait GIF is a combination of my struggles with Depression and Anxiety (namely, all my resentments and frustrations that I highlight with the words “Help Me I’m Sick” and “Mental Illness Hurts”.) But it is created not from my Mental Illness’s point of view but by how my SDD causes me to see the world. Essentially they are two very different things happening in my brain at once, but I used one to compliment the other in hopes that it may get an interesting visual narrative across.

  truth  

In my second GIF, Truth, I had a lot of fun animating and glitching it. I wanted this one to be a representation of both sides of me meeting in the middle. The good and the evil. I think it stemmed from a bit of teenage angst that I had harbored over the years (don’t we all still have a little?). Well this was going to be VERY angsty, I had a drawing of a humanoid figure caught in the chains of a heart for goodness sake! But glitching saved us all. It also reminded me that simple is sometimes better.

 

breathein

 

The third was the hardest to come up with. I went back to some old to emulate what I have done in the past because it is difficult to really know who you are in the moment. I added text and color over a pattern I was initially going to use for a brush effect. However the corners and gradients worked with the words well enough that I left it as it was. I was inspired by the gifs that help people who struggle with anxiety breathe at a calming rate. Adding a repeater effect and layering the moving structure on itself was done to further symbolize a heart. To individualize it (hopefully).

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

starbirth When we first started making animated GIFs in Photoshop, I had no idea what direction I wanted to take mine, but I was excited by the possibility of depicting a short and whimsical narrative, as well as playing with color. This GIF, which I’ve come to refer to as “starbirth,” was an experimentation with both of those concepts. It tells the story of a star that falls through the dark blue sky and out of sight, where it crashes to the ground of a planet. The crash knocks up star debris which billows in bright green and rainbow clouds and then shoots up into the sky, lighting it up with the birth of new stars. I had never made any animated art before, so making this forced me to consider color’s relationship with an evolving narrative. When the star fell, it was a semi-transparent bright green with a lavender shadow against the dark blue background which made the whole “sky” appear dimly lit. After the star disappeared, I used the same shade of bright green, but now at full opacity, to build the elements of the aftermath, and the story ends once the whole sky changes to that shade of bright green. I found the juxtaposition between the dark and the bright to be visually appealing and support the narrative, especially at the end when the bright green takes over the sky, signifying the brightness of the new birth and contrasting the dimness of the first set of frames. Most of the frames for this GIF were drawn using the paintbrush tool, but the stars were made using a brush I had created during one of our first lessons in Photoshop. Since the star shape was rough and sketchy looking, I felt that it paired well with the casual hand drawings and made the whole GIF kind of abstract and whimsical, like something from a child’s imagination. One struggle with this one was the hand-drawn illustrations though, because I had initially wanted them to be much neater, and found it difficult to draw using a laptop and the paintbrush tool. In the end however, I grew to like the imperfections in the way it is drawn, and am happy with it as a first exploration in GIF-making. bouncing-cubes-(corrected) As I continued my exploration with GIF-making, I considered ways to work around my problem of illustrating with a computer mouse, and decided I would try different styles that involved more shapes and premade graphics. I began creating lines and playing with how I could animate them. When I was trying to space them evenly, I discovered the grid lines and the ability to snap graphics to these grid lines. This sparked the idea of making a gridded pattern and having shapes pass up and down through the grid. So I created a black background with green gridlines and filled in the corner boxes with blue and white, creating squares that I would move diagonally toward the center, and then back. Inspired by the theme of the class, “club visuals,” I flipped the grid colors in every frame, to create a strobelike effect. I found it really satisfying to make a GIF that appealed to the digital nature of this form of art-making. This GIF also seems like one that I could expand on if I want my work to go in that direction. Part of its appeal is the flashing effect it creates, which makes it almost difficult to look at, and creates subtle color effects as a result of the rapidly changing colors. I could build a series of these GIFs that grow in complexity through modifications to the color palette, grid, and motion of squares, creating different visual effects that affect the way the viewer perceives them. purple-background-ovules-n-stars This GIF could be considered a product of all my experimentations in digital art thus far. Previously, the GIFs I made were building on my skills in Photoshop, but this one came later, after we had begun working in After Effects. As I produced more digital art, an interest in color and the way it can affect perception emerged. When we started with After Effects, we had an assignment to use the LoopOut(); command. In class, we had used it in conjunction with motion paths, to make the motions repeat themselves. I took in interest in applying this to color. Inspired by the work of http://flrngif.tumblr.com/ as well as psychedelic posters designed by Victor Moscoso in the 60s and 70s,I picked a rainbow color palette and assigned each oval a color. Then I created keyframes where the colors would change to the next color in the rainbow order, and applied the LoopOut(“pingpong”); command so that the ovals cycled through the rainbow palette and then cycle back for the duration of the movie. Since the assignment was dealing with motion paths and not color, and also because I wanted to add some more interest, I decided to add some bright yellow stars that would meander from the top of the frame to the bottom as the colors went through their cycle. This was challenging because it was difficult to design the motion paths exactly how I envisioned them in my mind. My goal was to make them whimsical and floaty, but their motion ended up much more quirky than I had intended. When it was finished, it was just existing as an After Effects movie, so when I decided to turn it into a GIF, I dragged it into Photoshop and saved it using Photoshop’s GIF format. While it seems less complex than all the others, this GIF ties together a lot of the skills I have developed in both Photoshop and After Effects, and is starting to solidify the direction that I am going to take my future digital art.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

 
atom_gif

atomic_melt

 
fire_gif

atomic_melt_2.0

pujo

lakshmi_pujo

My plan with these gifs was to practice my skills with Photoshop. I’ve had experience with gif-making in Photoshop before due to some gifs I made in my 3D Modeling class (shown below).
halloween

halloween_3D_modeling

However, unlike the projects in digital tools, these were made in Blender and the stills were imported into Photoshop. In Digital Tools, I was able to make my art from scratch in Photoshop and also turn them into gifs. I had a lot of fun with them. Atomic Melt and Atomic Melt 2.0 are two variations of each other. I practiced angles and playing around with shapes. I also was able to play around with layering and different filters. With Lakshmi Pujo I played around with Indian/Bengali motifs. I sent it to my mom because at the time she was celebrating Lakshmi Pujo. This is a festival dedicated to the Indian goddess of wealth. Neither of us are particularly religious but we do participate in the cultural aspects of the festival. My goal with this gif was to create one of those “WhatsApp” shareable gifs. My favorite gifs, however, were the good vs. evil ones.
evil_moyna

evil_moyna

good_moyna

good_moyna

The point of these was to create an evil and good version of yourself. While they’re both pretty peppy, I tried to “meme-ify” them a little. My last conference project was a critical theory study on economic memes. I tried to make “evil_moyna” evil by creating a text containing the word “capitalism” at the bottom. I also played with darker lighting. I do wish that I had inverted or flipped the image so that it would look more distorted. The “good_moyna” gif had lighter colors and a text containing the word “blep” at the bottom. A blep is when an animal sticks out their tongue. In the original image my tongue was out a little bit. I thought to add the text because it was kind of a wholesome meme/image. I really enjoyed playing around with glitching. Especially since we played around with glitch code in System Aesthetics.
clock_gif

wheel_clock

I again used a cultural reference for this gif. I modeled this after Ashoka’s chakra which you can find on the Indian flag. It kind of just became a clock with different layering methods. The wheel part also reminds me of Bridget Riley, who we studied in Art from Code. Overall I’m happy with my gifs so far. I can’t wait to make more. I’ll put a few more gifs I made below.  

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

  TWEENED-polka-dot-gif-in-making I had nothing more than a few hours’ worth of Photoshop experience at the beginning of this course. Since creating an animated GIF was one of the first assignments, I had to spend a large chunk of time learning the software, becoming frustrated, and then attempting to learn it again. I am a complete perfectionist, but one thing that art assignments continue to force me to is to let go of my perfectionist nature and to instead explore what the software allows me to create. While making these GIFS, I found a few different brushes that I really liked, ones that if I enlarged, created patterns almost a stamp. This is how I created the Polka Dot GIF. For the Purple & Orange GIF, I used a wallpaper and tile that I made for previous assignments. The wallpaper began with a drawing. My sole goal with this drawing was to practice using the brush tool, but my professor advised me to select one piece of the drawing and create a wallpaper with it. I used this piece to create a pattern overlay which became a wallpaper. I wasn’t a huge fan of this piece of the drawing originally, but I love it when it’s smaller and repeated like it is in the wallpaper and GIF. TWEENED-flower I really did not have a plan for this project. I had a ‘just get it done’ mentality, which probably wasn’t the best thing, but now that I have more experience with the software and am caught up to the level of the rest of my class, I can spend more time with the details of my art. I can create pieces and then go back and revise them, but I think it took just completing a few assignments for me to be able to get to that place. My art-process for this class has been less planned out, which is completely out of my comfort zone, but I’ve learned that it works better for me to have maybe a slight idea of what I want my piece to look like, but then to be flexible and see what I can create digitally. It doesn’t always exactly match my vision but usually, I like the end-product better anyway.TWEENED-purple-and-orange Another part of my process was trial and error. I had to spend time just playing and experimenting in Photoshop and I had to learn what patterns and colors appealed to my eye. I prefer GIFs that don’t have too sharp of a contrast in color or pattern, which I learned by making a GIF that I absolutely hate. One layer of this GIF is blue & orange and the other is a layer from the Polka Dot GIF. The combination of a drawing that doesn’t appeal to me, two vastly different patterns/designs, and a completely different set of colors made this GIF one of my least favorites. On the other hand, I’m proudest of the salmon background GIF and the Flower GIF because the colors change slightly, while the pattern remains very similar. Through making the Polka Dot GIF, I also realized that I often like images that are symmetrical and have a sense of order to them.  

Digital Tools: The Art of The GIF

Wink

My plan for the animated GIF assignment, as it has been for all of my assignments thus far in Digital Tools, was to create cohesive content, digital art with an aesthetic that carries from one style of digital media to the next. As I discovered early on this semester, through the wallpaper assignment, I am very much inspired by the Jonathan Adler and Kate Spade aesthetic. This came as quite a surprise to me as I certainly do not adhere to this aesthetic in my own fashion choices or interior design, but I find I am attracted to this colorful, preppy, clean look of playful design mixed with attractive color schemes.

The three GIFs I have chosen to include in this post are pieces I created with an audience in mind. I wanted to create GIFs I could imagine Millennials sending to friends or loved ones via Facebook, Email or text. I made GIFs that contain universal themes, with messages that can be expressed through imagery rather than text. I chose to create a wink, a kiss and a birthday cake.

Kiss

As I created these GIFs, one by one, I found I grew more confident in my drawing abilities on Photoshop. I had always felt I lacked skill in the drawing department, and with the introduction of the pen tool I’ve found a world of opportunity I didn’t realize existed.

I am most satisfied with the color scheme I have included throughout my GIFs. I’ve had a lot of fun utilizing my favorite pale shade of pink and finding other colors that work well alongside it. I am also very happy with the cohesion of these pieces.   I feel like they work well alongside one another, which has continued to be my hope for all of my work produced in digital tools.

If I were to change anything about these GIFs, I would have utilized a background other than white in my wink.   I also would have created the second frame of the kiss to have a more pursed lip detail. Overall I am very happy with my animated GIFs. I’ve already sent out the birthday cake in a happy birthday message. I have a feeling I will use it again soon.

Birthday Cake

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

Wing-Flap_1-31

I wish I could say it’s just my art style, but honestly, my work on this project is pretty basic by artistic standards. I’m not an especially experienced or practiced visual artist, and it shows in my work on this project. I didn’t have much of a plan going in, just trying to find the right mindset to create the types of images I saw everyone else creating around me. This was, obviously, not a very concrete plan. Trying to directly find inspiration in the work of other artists wasn’t working for me at this point, so I decided to focus on creating images inspired by things I enjoy seeing in the world around me instead.

As I had previously created a brush that reminded me of a bird’s wing, and the motion of wings flapping is one that I have always found fascinating, I decided to try to mimic that sense of motion in my first gif. I created five layers in photoshop, and used the transform and distort tools to alter each layer, until they looked similar to how I visualized the stages of a bird’s wing flapping. Once animated, the image was much smoother and more convincing than I had expected with only five layers, and I was quite pleased with the result, despite its simplicity.

CMK_Good_Glitch

In creating glitch art, I decided to work from a selfie I took while in cosplay, with a pastel rainbow overlay. I chose this image because I really only like looking at pictures of myself when I am cosplaying in those pictures, but unlike in most such images, I took this picture while out of character. As such, this is the rare picture that captures the uniquely comfortable way I am able to inhabit my body while in cosplay, without the obscuring effect of my being in-character.

As I was unable to glitch my image on my computer itself, as was taught in class, I used an online glitching tool to glitch my initial image. (The tool I used.) In order to avoid my tendency towards using tiny variations on the same image, I did all of my glitching using this tool’s “randomize” feature.

In this first glitch gif, I made the transitions between images crossfade, to create a sense of smooth continuity. My intent was to make this image glitched but not unsettling, and this continuity allowed the image to have the calm sort of flow I imagined.

CMK_Evil_Glitch

When glitch gifs were assigned, it was suggested that we try to make our two images representative of our “good” and “evil” selves. While brainstorming how I might convey the idea of my “evil self” through glitching, I was inspired by the glitch art created by Andrew Hussie for his groundbreaking multimedia webcomic, Homestuck. In Homestuck, he uses glitching frequently, as both an artistic tool and a plot device. This work was my first significant exposure to glitch art, and as such, it felt natural to me to derive inspiration from it while attempting to create my own glitch art.

To create this second glitch gif, I selected the most heavily glitched images I had created, alongside those that I found most viscerally unsettling, and tried to juxtapose contrasting images through rapid transitions between frames. By only using rapid glimpses of the more heavily-glitched images, I tried to convey a sense of foreboding in the composition of the gif. While I wish the frames of red and green glitching were shorter, to better convey the effect I was going for, overall, I am satisfied with this result.

Digital Tools: Art of the Gif

I'm Gay

I will admit, I am subject to my own vanity, and to be honest I deserve to be vain.  I was in the closet for the first twenty years of my life.  This was twenty years of being in “forced drag”, going through the wrong puberty, being unable to seek out gay and trans history due to the fear of being outed, twenty years of being ugly because how my head saw me, the mirror and the world refused to reflect.

A year and a half ago I shook off my forced drag persona and went by my true name: Baphomet.  I started to finally use he/him pronouns. Nine months ago I started hormone replacement therapy.  I can say that since coming out as a trans gay man my physical and mental health has improved.  My relationship to others has improved.  However, as I keep saying, I’m finally hot.

Is this vain? Hell yes it is.  However until you have gone home from a hookup and cried over how ugly you are compared to the man that you just were intimate with, you can’t tell me anything. Until you’ve shaved your head in a rage because you got called “she”, you can shut it.

Like the artists before me such as Warhol, Gaugin, van Gogh, Cézanne, and Scheille; the self portrait is a way to introduce myself in a stylized fashion, and in my circumstance a way to reclaim and reassert my identity and space.  For my first gif I did just that: I drew a self portrait of myself as a cartoon character. I am angry and baring my teeth. My big fur coat is standing on end, as it it were my own fur and I’m some kind of angry mammal.  The animated text reads: “I’m Gay.”  I am shouting this at the top of my lungs.  For so long I have been denied my identity as a gay man and been alienated from my own spaces and even currently I have been asked why I even transitioned if I am only attracted to men, as if the only valid way to be trans is to also be straight.

For my next two gifs, I used a selfie I took on my phone of myself in the same coat as seen in the drawn gif.  By using the selfie I am simultaneously conveying my transness, my gayness, and finally my right to claim my attractiveness as both trans and gay.  For both, created a fur pattern for the background and created a wreath of chrysanthemums (for that hedonistic and vain homosexual aesthetic ala Oscar Wilde).  These two layers served as the background for my selfie.

Glitch Gif 1

For the first gif I took the original image i created and made raw copies of it.  Then in photoshop I played around with their settings, creating interesting graphics to be later used as patterns.  In a new photoshop document I overplayed these patterns over my original image, with the opacity for each being between 29-40%.  Finally in the time line I played these overlays randomly, and tweeting them to have 3 frames between each original one.  The result is something sophisticated, dream like, and slightly disorderly.

Glitch Gif 2

My next gif I took my original photo and made several copies of it as a .bmp file.  Then I individually converted each file to a .txt file.  Within the .txt files I cut and pasted random lines of text from the middle and moved them around.  Finally I converted my corrupt .txt files back into .bmp files, and took screenshots of each (photoshop is too smart to open and read corrupted files).  Finally I took my original photo, new corrupted photos, and my texture graphics into photoshop and made a glitch gif.  Within the gif the images are dispersed and played randomly between each other with the texture images (again set at between 29-40%) also being randomly played over.  The result of this gif is something disjointed, distorted, and in all strangely energizing.  If the first selfie gif was akin to me drinking tea in my boudoir then this final gif is akin to me drinking magic mushroom tea in that very room.

Through these gifs my goal was to proclaim my worth.  I am gay, I am trans, I’m finally handsome and worthy to love myself and to be desired by others.  I am reclaiming my image, my voice, and my expression as an artist in a world that wishes it could cast me out a revile me, when it can do either.  I’m finally the handsome and talented Baphomet Nayer, and I have earned my right to be as vain as my cis and heterosexual contemporaries.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

repeater-gif

I am going to be very transparent in this post: learning the ropes of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe After Effects was quite a long and perilous journey for me.  It might be important to add, or not so much at all, that I had no plans or ideas going into this project… which brings me to introduce the gif above.  This gif developed from the repeater effect on AE.  Generally, in my art, I tend to use a nice complementary palate.  Lately, I have been enjoying the feeling of pastels.  In this gif I played around with different functions and characteristics, such as opacity, rotation, trim lines, and changing of position.  I would say this composition worked O.K., however, it’s not too much to my liking.

My next gif was more thought through, and much more engaging than my first.  A few years ago I discovered the artist Deth P. Sun.  A great deal of his paintings have dark, grey, night-like backgrounds… usually featuring a cat with a sword at his waist.  This cat is often depicted in a colorful yet seemingly quiet environment, whether it be a tropical forest or his cluttered bedroom.  I love Deth’s scenes and wanted to reciprocate that quiet but brightly colored world he creates.  I created the star shapes with stroke and without fill, as it seemed to be gentler and allowed the atmosphere of the gif to be more inviting.  The stars all rotate at different degrees, and some are rotating at a negative degree to add some diversity.  Once I had completed the stars, I felt as though the gif was too monotonous, so I added some fast moving trim lines throughout.

stars_animation

Recently I discovered a really exciting and magical Japanese artist called Ikegami Yoriyuki.  Her paintings are so inviting with their deep and bright colors, and the characters shown appear to be emotional and sometimes indulgent.  Ikegami’s imagination is full of rabbits that dress and walk like people, small fluffy dogs, serene and dazzling nature.  A painting of hers that I saw not too long ago depicted very small pixie-like persons with wings for hair.  They were hiding inside of bold colored tulips, and flying to them from different angles.  In my final gif I wanted to create a scene of nature, that was also magical and serene.  Yes, it was very difficult to do… but it worked.  I created the flowers with the shape and pen tool, arranged them neatly in a row.  Then I drew a trim line that curves and curls playfully, as to represent the trail of a bumblebee.  I made sure that the line kissed the top of each flower, while it traveled across the image.  When the gif was almost complete, a risky idea came to me.  The thought was to show a tiny ball of yellow above each head of the flowers, and to make it disappear once the trim line came into contact with it.  This worked by way of me meticulously timing keyframes for the opacity of the yellow dot to diminish completely upon meeting the trim line.  This gif I like the most because of its color scheme and seamlessness.  I’m hoping to create sillier images in the near future.

tulips

Digital Tools: The Art of The GIF

 

The inspiration for this gif originated from one of the brushes I created in Photoshop. I designed this brush after the cross hatching drawing technique I learned in my art studies. When I started to stare at the lines where they intersect I could see all the shapes they made. Then I thought it would be more interesting to see the lines move in different directions and see how the shapes in between them change. I decided to make four rows of lines going in different directions. I made the vertical and right diagonal rows go clockwise and the horizontal and left diagonal lines go counter clockwise. Initially, I was going to have the lines rotate all the way around but since I was assigned to work only in photoshop that seemed a bit too tedious. So instead I decided to let each row go in a direction for a few frames then have them rotate back. I also made the frame where the lines rotate the most invert colors to add more interest.

 

  When I first started this glitch portrait I was not sure what kind of glitches I wanted to use. I decided to take the trial and error approach and stop when I found something I liked. After several tries I finally came across the black screen and the disjointed face glitches as seen above. I achieved the former by first turning the png file into a txt file. Then I copied a small portion of text and pasted it in random places. The first glitch I made only had this glitch at the bottom part of the picture. I decided to copy the first glitch photo and repeat the same process going further up the txt file as I went along. I repeated this task until I had several glitch photos that could serve as animation frames to make the glitch look as if it was creeping up the photo.  I created the disjointed face glitch while messing with a bmp file.  I also erased the eyes out of my normal photo and layered it on top to give the glitch an eerie feeling.

 

  My original idea for this gif was orange and purple rectangles rotating at different rates on a white background. However I liked the idea of the background alternating between the two colors in time with the squares movements. I eventually settled on the background color changing in accordance with the corresponding rectangle that reaches the bar at the bottom of the screen. It took about 13 frames to animate each rectangle going up or down. Once I got them to go in opposite directions on the vertical axis I copied and flipped the frames around to create a loop effect. I also made the bar at the bottom change its color to a slightly darker version of the color of the background and rectangle.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

finger-gif-final

For the first gif, my plan was to be make a gif with alternating patterns based on the brush I created for the first assignment. I intended to create a series of the finger print patterns with enlarging scales. So each new finger print pattern shown on the new frame would be larger than the previous ones. In addition, both the background color and the color of the finger print would reverse compared to the previous frame. Thus, there were alternation of color in both background and foot prints. The pattern in the previous frame would be the same color as the next background, and vice versa.  My plan in the change of scale worked well, so there was the effect of stepping up and leaving finger prints. However, the alternation of color was difficult in workshop because every time when I switch color, Photoshop was not giving me the accurate reversal color I needed. So on the second and forth frame of the gif, the pattern on the right bottom is visible when it is not supposed to be.

pimple-gif

For the second gif, my plan was to make a gif of a pimple popping disaster. The gif is supposed to have a random pattern of blood flowing on the person’s face. I drew the image of the nose based on an image searched on google. It took me more time to make this gif than the first one because this one has more frames. I was considering the color of the nose and the nostrils so they would look both natural enough. I chose purple of the lips before the pimple popped out so the face looked more peaceful compared to the later disastrous face. I specifically chose this perspective of the face so it would be more unexpected. It also gives more attention to the nose compared to other parts of the face. It was difficult to draw the needle. I considered the brush tool, but I was not confident of drawing a perfect straight line and giving a sharp end. The line shape tool seemed to be a better option, but it still looked more of a thin rectangle than a needle. I enjoyed drawing the pimple the most. I used a larger brush with a blurred edge to draw a red dot and drew a smaller orange one on top of it. After all, I am happy with this humorous presentation of a disaster in daily life.

por-gif-1

Finally, making glitch portraits was one of the most exciting experience in this class since I’ve enjoyed playing around with my self-portraits on some glitch photo making apps on my phone and listening to 8-bit music. I had never expected the theory of making a glitch art could be this simple. I did not really have a plan in my mind when I was glitching my portrait. In the process of glitching, I found some come patterns. Codes that are closer to the beginning of the file is describing the upper parts, and vice versa; longer codes contain more image information so when I edited with longer codes, more areas of the image were changed. I was having a hard time with glitching in jpeg format. I did not give me much effect as other file types. After I finished glitching some images, I selected eight of them for the gif. I arranged images with similar glitch methods separately. The final gifs change glitch from up to down repeatedly. I wished I could have added more glitch or pattern on the background too.

Cultural Hijack: A Tour of the Building

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Process:

I wanted to criticize space and my class challenged me on how self-righteous it came across. In frustration, I realized that what I wanted to do was explore Heimbold through my emotions and my memories. It is a micro-situation 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 my class. As I developed the places and spots to visit I made a few consistent spots to visit.

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

2. During the show I entered bathrooms of all genders. I stuck 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 asked 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 meant  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, with 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. Let’s 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 in include 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 transgress 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 pushed 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.

Cultural HiJack: The OöfOöf

My first round of OöfOöf stickers!!

My first round of OöfOöf stickers!!



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 image, 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.   My class 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 of, 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 on hanging a banner of OöfOöf in the library. I thought it was the perfect place, because I did not want the 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 gave  them stickers, 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 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. 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.  
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!

 
Someone was spotted  wearing an OöfOöf in class!

Someone was spotted wearing an OöfOöf in class!

 
OöfOöf banner in Heimbold

OöfOöf banner in heimbold

Nonlinear Narratives: Down Post Mortem

background pt 2 copyswamp grass copyswamp water walkable copy My game is about Kaira making friends in a swampy wasteland while on her quest to regain her memories and find out why she lost them in the first place. The game is right now basically a walking simulator. It will eventually be a choice based RPG with follower characters and branching dialogue and story options. In her quest to regain her memories she will eventually also realize she has a sister that she needs to rescue. The McGuffin is exploration as the only way Kaira can regain her memories is by exploring and solving the challenges she and her companions face along the way. For example Kaira is trying to regain her memories and some of the things she needs to regain those memories are in parts of the swamp she cannot breathe in, so she needs to gain the trust of a companion who can breathe in those areas so he can explore them for her. While this character has yet to be introduced in this game build he will likely appear very soon as he is pivotal to the story. I used abstraction in that the game is less detailed than I originally was going to have because the scope of the project would’ve been so much. I used aesthetic in my game to try and give it a dark and mysterious vibe. I use the purples and black colors to show that even though this is a swamp it’s not a swamp that one would find today. The environment is natural in form but unnatural in color scheme and inhabitants. The darker color scheme also gives a somber mood to the game which I am also going to toy with in later maps that will have warmer and more welcoming color schemes.
Nadia Sprite copy

Nadia, yet to be introduced character

One of the characters who will appear in this more warm place is Nadia. Even though her dress is cool colors I want her to still give off a warm and inviting vibe. I mostly have her in the dark blue dress to show that even though the home she’s crafted for herself is very different from the environment around her she is still very much one of the people who lives in the swamp. Another character who has a warmer color scheme is Shari, the talking serval. He is a swamp cat that if Kaira befriends, will be able to get things from the parts of the swamp that would be toxic for Kaira to enter. Almost all of the possible companion characters have an aspect of their design influenced by another companion to show that they are possible companions. Such as how both Shari and Zhis have orange, or how Shari and Nadia both have scarves like Kaira does. I want to use the warm and cool color schemes to make the player feel different things about the different environments. For example, Nadia runs a tavern that I want the player to find warm and inviting in comparison to the hostile and dark swamp outside. My story is nonlinear because it starts in the middle, the events that led to Kaira and Zhis being where they are happened before the game began and there was a whole mini adventure that the two went on before the game began but the game starts in the cage, after Kaira has forgotten all these things. The level that I’m working on now in the final game would probably be a flashback that happens partway through the beginning of the game.
zhis sprite copy

Zhis, Kaira’s first companion/friend

 
enemy static copy

The first enemy

 
shari sprite copy

Shari, Kaira’s second friend in the swamp

I used abstraction in the fact that a lot of major characters that Kaira can befriend or interact with aren’t human. For the majority of the beginning of the game Kaira is the only human the player sees. This shows that the environment is not one the player is familiar with, but Kaira’s casual interactions with these non human characters shows that it is an environment she is comfortable in. My plan for moving forward with this game is to flesh out the animations as well as the dialogue that Kaira has with the characters already in the game as well as the future characters. I also want to work on the next few maps as well as adding more sprites for future characters. (Kaira will have A Lot of friends) As far as feedback loops go the more the character explores and talks to people the more she will be able to remember which will make her want to explore more as she gets closer to her goal of confronting the force that made her loose her memories in the first place. How Kaira goes about accomplishing this will also effect how other characters see her. For example there are some choices she can make that will cause her companion’s deaths or cause them to abandon her because of her actions. A player who say doesn’t care for Zhis for example much might find this mechanic helpful while others may be distressed that their favorite companion could leave them depending on their actions, causing the player to have to weigh the pros and cons of the actions they take in the story. Another feedback loop will be an approval system where the different companions of Kaira’s will approve or disapprove of the actions Kaira takes and this will influence how they feel about and speak to her.  

Space Hijack: Laundry

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.

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  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.   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.

System: The Eisenberg

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Final form of the system while the background is gray

I knew going into this project that I wanted to try and create a map of a social network, based on Nicholas Christakis’ Ted Talk entitled “The hidden influence of social networks.” I decided to have a set 12 circles representing people for my map and to show the connections between people I would have them be different colors and then the circles of the same color would be connected. After some consideration of using a RGB color wheel, I decided to use a traditional red-yellow-blue color wheel for my colors because it seemed more natural, and I thought a user would be able to see what was happening with the colors more easily.

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System with plain gray background and no lines connecting the people

The most difficult part of this project was to get the pressing of the “a” and “s” keys to complicate and simplify the system. I had to figure out how to get the colors to change at the press of the key while simultaneously having the previous circle not show up and the lines continue to change. I had difficulty having the circles change color randomly while also having the draw and undraw line functions work correctly in conjunction with the button press.

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System in its initial state with the connections of the lines

To simplify and complicate are the main two rules of the system, and they are also the ones that the user can interact with. The other rule is to connect, which is done through the lines that connect the people of the same colors in the system. This part of writing my system was easier than I anticipated because I formed a loop that would find the color of each circle and draw a line to all other circles of the same color. The removal of the lines with each complication and change of the system was slightly more complicated but I set the lines so that they were a much higher stroke weight and were the color of the background when performing the undraw function.

Error screen of the system

Error screen of the system

I based the decision of what colors to make the backgrounds based on the reading I did by Josef Albers about the relation of colors to each other. When colors are placed on top of one another they react in such a way where sometimes one color can take away from the other, making the other color look different than it should based on the actual color value. I chose to make the “error” screen the same red of the red from my list of colors. I refer to this as the “error” screen because when the system has that color for the background the system cannot be simplified anymore. All of the circles on the error screen are also red, directly showing that the group of people cannot be simplified anymore because they are all represented by the same color. With the white pattern on top of the background color, I wanted to see how the colors of the people interacted with the color of the background when the white pattern was in between. For the “error” screen, the red circles seem to look darker than the background, and I think that the circles in contrast with the white lines cause this effect.

The system when the colors have reached their most complicated and the background is yellow

The system when the colors have reached their most complicated and the background is yellow

I had a similar thought process for choosing the yellow for the other background. I would normally never use the color yellow that I picked because it’s too bright for the type of color palette I prefer. I chose this because I thought it would perhaps make the somewhat more subdued colors of the people look even more soft and also perhaps darker. This worked out somewhat, although the colors with yellow tints became somewhat more difficult to see or tell the difference between. I think also the background yellow looks more green-tinted in relation with the colors of the people.

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The final version of the system with the circles slightly different sizes based on their color, changing through the different iterations and changes of the system

The final version of the system with the circles slightly different sizes based on their color, changing through the different iterations and changes of the system

I really enjoyed doing this project because this idea of the human social network is one that I think about often and have thought about since I first watched this Ted Talk two years ago. I am really intrigued by the idea of the idea of being influenced by people who are far away from me in terms of social connections, plus I really like seeing human relationships mapped out. Independent of this project I have considered drawing the relationships in my house as a map multiple times this semester. Making this piece has really been wonderful and I really enjoyed seeing this concept I’ve thought so much about come to life. I’m planning on researching force directed graphs so that I can possibly continue to make other pieces like this that are more complicated in the future.  

Cultural HiJack: Steal This Space

  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 to 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.  

System: Polygons and Colors

 
Final

Final – a series of separately colored polygons rotating as two flow across the screen in the front. Name: Polygons and Colors.

For this project, I did something very new—maybe not at this point because it feels like I have been repeating that statement a lot in this course… but at the time it still felt new! I began working on the polygon starter file with no real linear ideas attached to it. The most stable ideas I had included two goals: make something that could resemble deep space, and experiment with color. I also wanted to work with the snowflake sketch.js, but I left that out because I thought the piece was going in another direction and I could not find a way to fit in that felt right.

Starter Colors

Starter Colors

Starter Colors

Starter Colors

Before starting with the code, I found the starter colors. I call them starter colors because I did not end up using any of them and knew very well that I would not toward the end. A majority of the code works around what colored polygons I wanted to emphasize over the others. In a sense, I tricked myself into thinking I had found my colors and worked from there. The colors I used were very similar to the abstract clock assignment’s colors in their saturation, which, looking at them both now, is surprising. Over this semester, coding has helped me play with color theory. Just like with coding as I explored it, I learned it. But before then I did not like bright and saturated colors. They can easily over-stimulate me due to my sensory integration disorder. But in my system piece, I think I found brightness levels I am comfortable with.  
Grid and Lines and Polygons 3

Grid and Lines and Polygons 3

Grid and Lines and Polygons 2

Grid and Lines and Polygons 2

Grid and Polygon and Lines

Grid and Polygon and Lines

Lines and Polygons

Lines and Polygons

When I started out, I played with semi-randomized lines in the front to add more of the dimension that I originally sought. I also played with a turquoise grid and kept the polygons small. But it was so separate that I felt it was missing the point of the assignment and thought I had coded myself into a corner. As I worked with them, the lines, grid, and circles grew apart into their singular characterizations. The randomized lines in the front never connected to the polygons in the back or added enough depth and, to my frustration, became more out of place after each session and seemed to be the only ones that were evolving. The code itself was also set up as very separate, and toward the end of the project, I felt I had coded and colored myself into a corner. How would I get them to work together as a functioning system?

Une retrospective

Une retrospective

At first, staring at Molnar’s Une retrospective for inspiration felt counter-productive. It was still separate! Looking at it now, I know that the more I worked, the more the colors began to expand and almost blend until it arrived at the final result. And I know now that Molnar’s painting isn’t actually that divided. Or, one doesn’t have to look at it that way. In each work, she uses the implication of movement. From Lettres da ma mere (Letters from my Mother) to the one I showed above her lines and shapes always suggest that a change is occurring. I already had the polygons spinning and wanted to keep that but then I began experimenting with making them move in another way as well. The spinning along felt monotonous. Adding a loop, I made two of the cut-off and off-center polygons rotate across the screen in a recurring wrap to make it a little less expected and languid. I also changed the direction of some of the polygons, the opacity and, of course, the size. I think the turning point was when I got rid of the lines. Once I did the subtle changes were highlighted more and made room for adding smaller and less translucent polygons in the back. To conclude, I think I accomplished a lot with this piece. The process felt natural and I think the spinning sequences and imperfect interactions help to make it more entertaining to a curious audience. The colors are vibrant (for me) but do not overpower it (or myself). And the movement remained odd yet weirdly calming.   Thank you for the opportunity. Izzy Singer

Scrolling Wallpaper

This wallpaper did not go through as many phases as my last project. Here I dabbled with the movement more than the official look. It is meant to capture some of the movement of a city. I struggled with the colors because most new york buildings’ are shades that do not translate well to code. Color-wise I ended up doing something very different from what I traditionally think of as “city colors”. Maybe some of Times Square made it into the project. (Which would be very upsetting for me because I am a native New Yorker and you must know how we feel about Times Square.)

  At first, I wanted to work with solids to get a feel of a crowded cityscape. I thought having it move strictly where the eye could see it might also encourage a feeling of closeness or stacked-ness. However, the disappearance of the moving rectangles (I called them the “buildings” in my notes) added another characteristic of the city: passing things by.

 
Stage 2 of Scrolling Wallpaper Assignment

Stage 2 of Scrolling Wallpaper Assignment

Stage One of Scrolling Wallpaper Assignment --adding the grid

Stage One of Scrolling Wallpaper Assignment –adding the grid

The piece hit a turn when I added more of what I noted as “clocks”. Unlike the green one they ended up being very stationary arcs but I felt that it got some of the idea of change across. I decided not the make the clocks move (perhaps I will in the future). After all, the city houses a very stressful look at time as well as the unexpected. I added the text simply because I like being a bit literal. I also knew the shapes, clocks, and grid might not get across everything going on in my head as I worked on the piece. The text consists of the phrases: “the city” “and all its people” “always moving” “do I have enough time?” I wanted the words to capture  the idea of walking through the city rather than stand as complete thoughts or phrases. So I took thoughts I had and cut them to a point I was comfortable with. I may not have gone as far as I could have with cutting the phrases. But in the end I liked where they ended up in the piece and felt they captured the idea even if they were a bit on the nose. In the end I messed with transparency; completely going back on my old idea. I cannot immediately explain why but one reason I came up with–that made sense to me—was: the city is too complicated to be solid and wordless. The dark colors are a choice that I fall in love with and fall out of love with frequently. However, they work well to emphasize the shadow that sometimes falls over the city.

  ClockFinal         ClockFinal2

Nonlinear Narratives: City Watch Post-Mortem

Background City Watch My game is about a girl who has to decide her own path in life.  She starts out in the City Watch, which is where she currently works as a knight for the city.  She is supposed to prevent and stop crime from happening.  She is assigned a major task, to find and take down the thieves’ guild in the city.  A problem with that, however, is that she is a kleptomaniac.  She has to infiltrate the thieves’ guild while struggling not to steal stuff.  Or she can give in to temptation and steal a lot of stuff.  It is the players choice to decide whether they want Lena to stay true to the CIty Watch or steal things and truly become a member of the thieves’ guild.  The characters in the game can also help influence her choice.  The captain, Morgan is very kind and caring to all her members; she treats them like family.  And Rob, the person in charge of the thieves’ guild, isn’t all bad.  He helps people who are in need and takes care of orphaned kids.  He provides people with a family as well.  So, the ultimate goal of the game is for Lena to decide whether she wants to stay with the City Watch and demolish the thieves’ guild, or leave her place at the City Watch and join the Thieves’ Guild.

Lena can walk around and talk to people in each level of the game.  There are many items to buy, pick up/steal, interact with, and people to talk to.  Depending on who is around, when Lena steals objects, dialogue options will change with Morgan and Rob.  If a knight is around, Lena will lose favorability with Morgan, but if a thief is around, Lena will gain more favorability with Rob.  To get closer with specific characters, their approval rating will have to be a certain level, so stealing items is a necessity, as well as doing heroic and just quests.  Heroic quests will improve Morgan’s approval rating without necessarily decreasing Rob’s.

The McGuffin in the game is the sword that Lena has.  It was given to her by Morgan earlier on in her life and it serves as her connection to the City Watch.  It changes/ disappears altogether depending on specific actions Lena takes throughout the game.

The abstraction in my game is how there is not a set path to follow, there are different options on how to progress the story, and there are multiple things to do at once.  This ties in with the nonlinearity of the game.  There is not one way to play the game.  Each playthrough of the game would be different because there are different side quests to take, different things to steal, different outcomes of the game.  Nothing in the game follows one path.  The forward and backward loops also tie into the nonlinearity.  The loops correlate to the approval ratings; doing a good thing will generally increase your approval with Morgan but decrease approval with Rob, and vice versa.  Depending on how the player chooses to play the game doing a good/bad thing will make one side of the game easier while making the other side harder.

My game says a lot through a little by using environmental storytelling.  The way places and characters look says a lot about them.  The outfits I chose for Henri and Morgan tie them together at the City Watch making them look like part of a team.  Lena’s outfit has the same boots as Henri and Morgan, but Lena has a much more casual look about her to make her blend into an average person.  The thieves don’t really where armor because they don’t need to.  They have more casual clothing to help them blend in because they aren’t supposed to stand out.  A thief that stands out is not a good thief.  That’s why Lena starts out with basic clothing.  She can get armor later in the game to help add to her defense, but her look should stay fairly basic.  Items within the environment also help to enhance the setting.  The setting is a mix between fantasy-medieval and realistic-modern.  There are items scattered around like smartphones and electronics.  There are working lights, but there aren’t cars.  There are typical RPG style vendors where Lena can buy and sell certain goods.  And the factions- City Watch and Thieves’ Guild are inherently fantasy tropes.

The nonlinearity of my game helps expand the theme and story because the purpose of the game is to choose your own path.  The player should feel free to follow whatever road they want to, and by not having a strict storyline, it allows the player to do what they want.  The ability to be free may also change how the player feels throughout the game.  By learning more about one person may affect how they want to play the game.  Discovering different parts of the game builds onto the world and influences the player’s decision without forcing them to do anything.

I think I have used the power of minimalism within my game.  I tried to give life to the environments and character through how they look without having anything be too cluttering.  The look of people and places should be simple but telling.

In a way the player can see what is important.  They know from the beginning what one option for the ultimate goal of the game is.  And they can soon learn the importance of one side or the other side.

    HenriFace  

Henri’s face

  knight sprite

Henri’s sprite

Lena Front Sprite  

Lena’s sprite

Morgan Sprite

Morgan’s Sprite

        Lena Face

Lena’s Face

    Morgan Face  

Morgan’s Face

  FullSizeRender (1)  

original sketch for Lena

FullSizeRender  

Lena’s sword given to her by Morgan