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.)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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.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. 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?
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
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.
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.
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.
original sketch for Lena
Lena’s sword given to her by Morgan