My goal in my conference was to create a space of otherness, where ones mind can be captivated by the illusion of communal thought and belief. This power, created and allowed by mans need to withdraw from his own agency, has been used by institutions of power since the beginning of time. Organized religion, public education, the institution of capitalism, etc. are all examples of man’s constructed centers of power with aesthetic and philosophical ideals and restrictions which give them the longevity and value to society.
For my project, I wanted to play with the ideas of power, consumerism, illusion, surrealism, visual and textual storytelling, and belief. I did so by establishing an imagined institution, one which had set values, rules, and aesthetic goals.
For my project, I created a pamphlet for the CII, “Creative Interview Initiative”, a group which focuses on the documentation of conversations and physical creation. The purpose was to impose values and systems for people to reevaluate their artistic practice through a communal lens.
By formatting the text into fragmented and disjointed parts I was able to create a cohesive and multifaceted pamphlet to discuss my ideas, through the fabricated voice of this group.
I handed out my pamphlets in the Heimbold Visual ArtsCenter and received some interesting feedback. People didn’t question the content or even want to know more. I, in fact could hardly get anyones notice of my project.
I think if I were to extend the project in the future, I would set up a booth with a banner in Heimbold’s atrium and hold an information session. This would add a more official appearance to my project.
The making of our conference project was definitely time consuming and harder than we thought it would be. We spent 15-16 hours straight in Heimbold, from 4pm to 8am the next morning. We thought we would be home by maximum 2am, but that did not happen… We had to cut each letter one by one, and then stick them up on the wall, one by one. Although the execution took so long, it was a great experience. I had never collaborated with someone artistically before, and it was definitely an enriching experience. Grace and I really put effort into the project and mostly the execution, and it was worth it because we are really satisfied with the outcome.
This is the text we wrote and put up on the wall:
Where does SPACE begin?
Does SPACE control you? Or do you control SPACE?
Architecture should make you feel at home in duration, not enclose you in space, nor in time measured out as if it were space.
You accept the division between public and private. Will you fight or conform?
You must connect one possibility to another. Either REJECT industry or EMBRACE it.
“Art can have no existential significance for a civilization which draws a line between life and art”
The doctrine of modern architecture excludes artist. Do not let it exclude YOU.
Does SPACE control you? Or do you control SPACE?
When we thought we had done the “worst” part, we had to install. And installing took so much longer than we thought it would. It was definitely the greatest part of the project, though. We saw our project come together letter after letter and that was amazing. We were in such a zone, time did not matter and people around us either. We installed our project during the night to make sure we would not be bothered by people walking through the hallway, but some people were still around, and it was really interesting to see their reactions, as the project was not yet fully put together.
Throughout the installation, we realized that it was really a 2 person project. I could have not done this alone; the execution would have taken twice the time, and I don’t think I would have had the courage to take over the space on my own. I think we altered the visual code of Heimbold in the sense that we took over unused space and did not really give a choice to people to see it or not. We wrote our text in the second person, to make it even harder for people to not notice it. The decision of starting our story on the other end of the hallway rather at the beginning is something we were unsure of for a second, because we were worried it would not make enough sense, but I am really glad we did it that way. It followed a little bit of the Situationist’s nonsense style. The reactions to the project were really interesting and positive; I spent the whole next day in Heimbold and saw a lot of people stopping to read the text, and overheard people talking about it. Some teachers came up to me to compliment the project/to ask for some sort of explanation for what we stated, and I thought that it was really cool that faculty got involved
This project will be carried out in Philadelphia. My goal is to create a piece of public art that encourages public interaction. I let a few people in the art scene here know that I’m looking for walls or spaces for intervention. While I wait for possible leads, I’ve started the brainstorm process for projects which would not require an approval process. This way, if I’m not able to coordinate a space in the short time allotted for this project, I am able to carry on with other ideas.
The majority of these ideas are short-term interventions, and include adding a suggestion box to a public space (such as an unmaintained bus stop). Responses could be reviewed and sent to a community council member. Another idea would be replacing advertisements on the public transportation system (Septa) with art, quotes, history lessons; content that is based on improving the visual environment and passenger’s experience, and does not ask its audience for money as advertisements do. Potential ad takeovers could include short lessons such as game theory, why/how to encrypt data, or perhaps even riddles, brain teasers or philosophical questions. The goal would be to show that one’s time on the train doesn’t have to feel like time wasted, rather, it could be a space for contemplation.
Another idea for a temporary ad replacement would be a list of compliments that are not about one’s looks. Multiple artists over the last few years have done a fantastic job of drawing attention to the issue of catcalling women, such as Tatyana Fazlalizadeh’s “Stop Telling Women to Smile” street campaign, Hannah Price’s portraits of catcallers, or Rob Bliss’ video “10 Hours of Walking Around NYC as a Woman”. These projects are all highly effective in highlighting how these supposed compliments are a degrading action that make women feel vulnerable and reduce people to objects of physical desire on the street. If the counter argument (as flawed as it is) is that there is there is positive intention in paying someone a compliment, I thought a positive extension of this existing work would be to provide a list entitled “Compliments That Aren’t About Looks”. The list would include quotes like “You have a beautiful perspective on the world/humanity/etc”, “You have an incredible sense of humor,” “I wish more people thought the way you did about ____”, and so on. The purpose of placing this within the context of an advertisement space on public transportation is because a lot of these types of catcalling issues occur in these small-quartered, public spaces. Thus, this placement would connect with one facet of the target-audience who should think twice before they address a stranger about their looks.
All of these ideas are attempts to reimagine existing public space as a place for audience engagement. Candy Chang, an artist, designer and urban planner, is an inspiration for this project as she uses her art to achieve this type of public engagement in a very direct way. A few of her more notable projects include painting an outdoor wall with the words “Before I Die….” then leaving a number of spaces for pedestrians to fill in the blank. Her indoor work has included projects such as confession booths, where audience members are able to anonymously write a confession on a provided card, which is then hung on a wall with other confessions as an exhibit. What I like about Candy’s projects is that they involve direct interaction between the audience and the art, and this allows the audience to take away a sense of self-importance from the work. One of my favorite projects that I completed last semester (Fall 2014) for Angela’s Remix the City course involved this same sort of direct connection with the work: I replaced an advertisement on the Metro-North train with an email address in order to provide people with a space to be heard. I was both surprised by the amount of positive feedback the sign received, and was encouraged to do more projects which gave people a space to feel heard.
That’s where I am in the brainstorm process, more posts to come!
When I was asked what I wished to do differently in Heimbold, my answer was “sit.” This made sense at the time, because Heimbold is special to me, but, as we’ve mentioned in class a million times, Heimbold is not an ideal place to study. It was not made for that. And when I create my own studying atmosphere, my chair is always the star of the show, so I decided to make my own.
I had a few objectives. I wanted to create a comfortable chair because I wanted to hone in on the notion of comfort. This is because I am often considering my own level of legitimate comfortability.
As new media transform the “home” (or in this case.. our college campus) into both the site of compensated work and the point of purchase for domestic consumables, our dwellings are increasingly converted into battlefields of struggle between leisure and work and of the relationship of comfort to space.
Comfort is surely going through a crisis of authenticity based on both commodification and simulation.If the Aeron can be replaced by an electrode in the brain, and if our favorite comfort foods can be replaced by a pill, something is put at radical risk.
Undoubtedly, there’s a politics here and, like any politics, this one boils down to control. Comfort represents a kind of utopia, an ideal, a reasonable place to be human. And as we increasingly become puppets to the corporate priests of pleasure and relaxation down at “Comfort Central,” we surrender a few more of our rights to be human to the industrial strength of global culture, to the cadre of usurpers who seek to make our choices for us.
The risk is that comfort may become an absolute, simplified to a single standard by the power of mass acculturation. How long will we rest having all our comforts dictated, if not by Mao then by Martha Stewart?
Throughout time, man has been driven to understand and actively negotiate individual existence in relation to the larger environment. Today, we are faced with a dynamic shift brought on by the onslaught of new information technologies and the virtual revolution. Information is available on an astonishing scale and (virtual) access to people and places from all corners of the globe is at our fingertips. The internet has reduced the physical reality of the world to a confusing conglomeration of digital postcards and fanciful web pages, and the speed afforded by technology in the 21st century propels us increasingly faster through our environments. Advances in computer technology have at once connoted the world as never before and fragmented our physical experience of our environments, complicating fixed notions of reality.
These are some ideas that I am considering all the time, so I boiled it down to hone in on particular element of comfort. A physical object that, if done right, yields undeniable human comfort and contentedness. A chair.
I wanted to go back to basics with this – considering every idea mentioned above – I wanted to know what it would be like to craft a physical manifestation of what comfort means (to me.)
Naturally, I also considered aesthetic. I dislike the way the red and yellow chairs look in Heimbold’s lobby, so I wanted my chair to look more natural as a way of recontextualizing the space. For this reason, I decided to use cardboard — but clearly I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
This was my first plan:
I collected 75 boxes from Stop and Shop, which Heimbold’s cleaning service promptly discarded.
Luckily, I then came into 12 large pieces of reinforced cardboard, so I came up with a new plan.
This plan seemed great, everything was going fine. Cutting the cardboard out with the exacto-knife seemed likethe most time consuming part. I was up all night, but had no anxieties.
Then, at 6am the morning it was due, it became clear to me that my cardboard was not strong enough to hold up this design.
I tried EVERYTHING to make it work, but it wasn’t going to happen. So suddenly it was 10 am, I had 11 pieces of oddly shaped cardboard, I was working in a room that I was not allowed to be in, I had been working for twenty hours, and I was nowhere. I needed to come up with a new plan but I had no idea how to go about it.
So I abandoned all ideas of form and just focused on function, because I needed to have something to show at 3:30pm.
I focused on somehow attaching these 11 oddly-shaped pieces of cardboard. So I cut out 10 long pieces from my remaining scraps of cardboard, (I was almost out of materials at that point), and I cut 10 identical slits in each of my 11 original pieces. I focused on the measurements, and spent hours weaving the rectangular pieces through my design. At 3:15 I was yelled at for taking over the drawing studio without permission and accidentally ruining a crucial still-life (my bad). At that point I had been awake for 30 hours and had had no food or coffee. I think I was actually shaking when John O’Connor chastised me, which is strange because I am usually very good at getting scolded.
The piece was not presentable until 3:40 pm, and it was finished by 6:30 pm that evening.
What I ended up creating was a functional chair (I can sit in it) that took me 40 hours to craft (AND THIS IS WHAT I HAVE TO SHOW FOR IT?!), but it accomplished none of my original objectives.
It has the most bizarre aesthetic I have ever seen, and it is anything but comfortable.
So I did not accomplish what I set out to do, but in a way, I did carry out a derive, and I did reframe the situation.
Also, I did recontextualize the space. Now among Heimbold’s odd, bubble-like red and yellow chairs, there is a strangely shaped DIY cardboard thing that people stare at. And I created it using only cardboard, a ruler, and an exacto-knife.
People interacted with it all evening. Throughout the night, people stopped to talk to me about it. Those who have worked with cardboard before totally understood the frustration I faced, and those who have never worked with cardboard were confused by my anger. Understandably so.
So it’s over. I reframed the space and I crafted athing for the first time in my life. I did not succeed in my own eyes but I feel oddly satisfied so I am going to take this feeling and run. It has been a pleasure working with you, remixers!