I visited Michael Craig-Martin’s new show at the Serpentine. I found it surprisingly interesting. I’ve never been a fan of his work, but perhaps the effort put into these works on devices, as well as the use of tape, pulled me in. I never found his style very appealing. The colours are too sickly for me, but the line and drawing is very precise, idealistic and blueprint-esque. His focus on objects obviously continues from his work in the 60s, YBAs, really just throughout his career. This show sees the focus on digital appliances and devices. The iPhone and Macbook are particularly nice to be in front of. They act as Apple adverts. Anyone can see the similarities with Craig-Martin’s style and the Apple marketing ethos. All that differs is the colour, and the lack of a cheesy Jonathan Ive quotes:
So I’ve decided to add the quotes:
“Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity. Simplicity is somehow essentially describing the purpose and place of an object and product. The absence of clutter is just a clutter-free product. That’s not simple.”
“There is beauty when something works and it works intuitively.”
“Good is the Enemy of Great.”
“True simplicity is, well, you just keep on going and going until you get to the point where you go, ‘Yeah, well, of course.’ Where there’s no rational alternative.”
Thank you Jonathan for your eternal Wisdom… and Michael for your continued lack of originality for 50 years… though in honesty, I enjoy the stylish and simplistic line drawings.. just not much else.
I’m considering my options with objects that can be both physical and digital. I like the idea of being able to touch it in VR, but when you take the HMD off, its still there in front of you. Today’s attempts at texturising the light paths with media have been terrible… An example of how terrible it was is below. (Its an extremely up close image of the American flag, on top of these lines.)
The plan is to make the projectors much smaller, to accommodate the images at that scale. When the first projector makes a stable and identifiable image. It will be a matter of copy and paste, and changing the images.
The focus of these images is on news channels, “talking heads” and the miscommunication between their messages. I’m not sure if anyone noticed yesterday’s fallacy of news reporting that is Sky News. A recent ISIS propaganda film has swept its way through our news even though we don’t want their propaganda to effect our daily lives. Whilst watching Sky News broadcast on the subject, they begin a live interview with a current expert in counter-terrorism. His comments were that we should be aware that ISIS are a credible threat, however we shouldn’t give in to their propaganda…. The interview went on for a good 5 /10 minutes. At the end, the presenter re-iterated what the expert had said, that they are a credible threat and we shouldn’t give in to their propaganda, with a banner above him displaying the man from the video and the title “ISIS release new film”…. The report continued for a further length of time, showing images of the British spies kneeling the jihadists.
This story has continued to be a featured part of the news since then, with comments from David Cameron all over the newspaper yesterday and this morning.
It’s irony is mesmerising, and it happens again and again. This is an example of the misinformation and hypocritical values in the news that I was interested in representing last April with ‘Monitor’. Their persistence of calling them ISIS, (a westernised baddie) against the will of our own parliament who are now recognising them as Daesh (a term they despise.)
Current live news reporting represents a terrifying mistreatment of the freedom of information. Paranoia is created throughout the country, and beyond, through the displaying of these propagandist films. (Exactly what Daesh had hoped for). A friend of mine said recently that they could imagine that the sense of unease and tension in London at the moment could be comparable to the Blitz…. other than the fact that there hasn’t been a similar attack. Whereas the Blitz saw consistent air raids on a daily / weekly basis that caused significant damage and hoards of casualties.
And the source of this paranoia? The representation of these stories in our own media. There’s no doubt that we in Britain are shaken by what has happened around the world, but our public information channels shouldn’t be over-bearing the message to make us feel uncomfortable in our own homes. (The sole purpose of ISIS’s propaganda messages). Surely these should be to inform, and to guide in the event of an attack, as well as to re-assure.
Ex-Security Minister Baroness Neville-Jones said on BBC Radio 4 that she was alarmed at the British public’s lack of awareness to their everyday surroundings….. (Two people have bumped into me today because they were looking at their phones.. )
This story trended in the media. It makes the public aware of the threat, whilst also guiding them to be safer in the event of an attack. Though….. you could also argue that this is exactly the kind of thing that stirs paranoia… either way I’d argue that its better than giving ISIS videos the air-time they want on our public news channels.
It’s interesting that the obsession (or addiction) we have to our online content, and personal devices could, in the event of a terrorist attack, be a threat to our own safety. In fact, it could be a threat during strong winds (falling branches etc..) How can we interact with our personal computers, whilst still remaining alert and aware of our physical surroundings? The only way that seems feasible, would be the inclusion of Heads-up displays, and augmented vision?
Below is a video with a demonstration of what can happen at a busy junction:
The shoes below were first thought of in 2012, but there’s an interesting idea / joke in here. The shoes use GPS to guide you home if your lost… If there were vibrations in each shoe telling you to stop, go left, or right. If they were fed live data from smartphones GPS positioning, perhaps, we could all walk around looking at our phones without having to look up to stop ourselves from bumping into one another…. This or something similar seems to be the one of the only possibilities of us encountering this awareness issue without Heads-up displays.
Just a thought.
Anyway, the low-res images below are a more stripped down version of Monitor, (still with no Textures).
I’ve finally started a physical version of the digital drawings I worked on earlier the year. I’m loosely basing it on a few of my previous pieces, but I’m trying to allow the process to dictate the composition. Beforehand, I’ve thought that having a detailed and structured plan was important, but the outcome of this continued to vary, so instead with this piece, im giving in to my instincts and seeing how it plays out.
Having recently framed a few of the earlier Signals works, (everything changes in a frame) I was pleased and excited by their outcome. Conceptually, there is an element of architecture to these voids, and their erratic nature gives an impression of the digital landscape but at the same time they lack a narrative. This is of course contradictory to my interest in revealing the narrative through the viewers presence, but you could argue that each viewer would have their own narrative of the compositions (like any art). Then again, with no revealed narrative and instead simply abstract contortions of lines, it becomes a classic example of justifying contradiction and curbing narrative to fit the practice.
Nonetheless, for this piece I’m letting the process create the work. The narrative and concept has been set throughout the MA.
Below I’ve attached 4 newly framed prints from earlier this year.
I’m interested in distorting the lines with a frosted Perspex over the top of the canvas, to give a more screen like impression. (I’d love to add lighting to this piece but I’m open to change).
My research has focussed on two elements. Digital Beings….. and the Virtual Space they inhabit….. The way I have attempted to represent these ideas has been highly experimental, and the hearty balance of media I wished for at the beginning of the course has yet to reach fruition. The act of researching the alternative to a real being in physical space from the point of view of a physical person naturally promotes a level of balance between the two but practically, in some cases, I’ve found more comfort in digital process over physical. My desire to physically paint has hopelessly diminished over the past 6 months, and instead an interest in combining physical drawings with 3D animation and processing has evolved.
A mixed media approach has always been my direction, however, their integration with one another is crucial. I feel my successes in the previous year have been in one medium, never the integration of many. For both the mini workshop and the Interim show, I’ve produced physical canvases, one oils, one inks (and wool)… the concepts behind these works have differed, “Society of Spectacle” visualised the ‘meta-city’ and its disconnected inhabitants, constantly missing the spectacles in front of their eyes whilst focussing on endless handheld distractions. “Congregation” is a composition of red-blooded empty shells of people each captivated by their own individualised sermon being read to the them by their personal devices. These works have focused on information addiction, which maybe goes hand in hand when trying to decipher the definition of Digital Identity, but then again, each individual represents identity differently, and its definitely a horribly broad umbrella term. After spending most of first year looking at the definition of digital identity in a very singular way, towards the end, I began to realise my interest in the representation of religion. I’m not a religious person, but I’m fascinated by religious art. In my eyes, nothing more important could have happened to humanity than the invention of religion. The ethics, arts and evolutions that have come from it are unrivalled. There are of course some very nasty moments in history where religion can be blamed, but I’m looking at it positively. Many of the worlds treasures would not have been created without a belief in God, and in simpler times, the question of the Unknown may have been a much more frightening prospect.
These thoughts about the online individual, his offline counterpart, how these individuals bunch up together to make communities and their eradication of traditions over facts, have then often been placed in images attempting to visualise the complexity of internet traffic?… The results have been aesthetically complex but conceptually very simplistic. I’ve spread my focus across a number of keen interests, and need to find more depth. Maybe thats the definition of quantitive over qualitative. But do these ideas not all come hand in hand? If we are to look at the stained glass windows of church interiors, the likelihood is the vast glass areas display what appear to be very complex aesthetics, but the stories behind them are intentionally made to be accessible to the masses. Or in fact maybe its the importance of an ethical question made simple to connect with the masses. Either way, trying to present overly complex ideas only promotes exclusivity, which has been, in my mind, the worst aspect of the contemporary art world in the past century. Then again, overly inclusive themes and concepts can be deemed ‘pop’ and sellable in an increasingly financial art world. As with anything, either side of the spectrum is extreme. I read an interesting article by Guardian art critic Jonathan Jones on Ikeda’s ‘Supersymmetry’ and how he believes that although the work was an impressive spectacle, the perceived complexity of it only strengthened Jones’s belief that Ikeda had no idea what was going on in CERN. Particle physics is complex, and therefore Ikeda represented it with aesthetic complexity…. but unlike Ikeda’s work… the complexity of CERN’s research actually means something. This has brought me back to my own work, and visualising internet traffic… Obviously the internet is a busy place, but empty lines can’t represent its manic behaviour, whats its made up of? what times and when is it used? The lines must be textured with media, or better yet, represent actual data.
My work with reactive sensors came to a halt over my sheer lack of experience in the area, yet had I successfully completed my aims with the project, I would not have considered the conceptual significance behind the ability to “turn on” a painting with your presence. At first. I felt the crucial aspect was to reflect the necessity for the individual to make an active choice to interact with their tech, and the internet. Now, its about why they want to. There was an interesting sets of stats released in the news about a week ago claiming that collectively people in the UK use their smartphones 1.1 billion times a day…. the average being around 40/50, and some extremists as high as 1000 times a day. What used to be an extension of communication has become an integral part to the way we think about everyday actions. But what are these interactions? Emails? News? Social Media? etc etc… Another approach is the Angler fish, and its use of light to attract its prey. This may be a route I take a little further. Going forward with the light – distance project, I’d love to create physical versions, however for the time being, and the recent success I’ve had with Leap Motion, I’m going to create it digitally. The narratives of these works will be an intersection of anatomy and architecture, fact over faith, the growth of global communications and the rise of narcissism in the online world.
Digital Architecture – Another vague term I’ve been using… At the start this was to me the information that makes up the web, and the forms they create when moving. This is still the case, however, I want my work to be more accommodating for people, rather than just residing amongst floating bits of spaghetti….
Its the beginning of 2nd Year, and quite worryingly, I’m beginning to think about my final piece. There a elements of it appearing in some of the work I’ve produced, but the equilibrium is yet to be established both in concept and process. I’m excited to get going, if only I could get into the building! Oh well… More self-obsessed dribble to follow.
I’ve been assembling a new version of the circuit I completed last term. With Ed’s help, I’m trying to attach a much larger light source to the Ultrasonic sensor. I’ve had to start using transistors to amplify the current for more LEDs. Alongside this, I’ve also had to add an external power supply. Unfortunately I think the one HC-SR04 sensor I own has broken! So I’ve had to order another, which won’t arrive till next week…. So this is on the shelf till it arrives.
I’ve been thinking about the interim show and what I hope to exhibit. If all goes to plan, I aim to use this circuit with a canvas. Instead of laser cutting an image into board, placing it on top of a square of LEDs, and covering it with a thin white material, (Sheets, paper, etc). I’m going to create my composition on the back of a canvas using duct tape. The duct tape will block the light from coming through the canvas, and the image will be displayed.
My recent post (Followers 03063015) as well as previous experiments with similar multiples of imagery, are examples of the sort of composition I hope to use. The Ultrasonic circuit runs on the idea of false discoveries, believing that your the first to find something, like a piece of information. The experience originally aimed to replicate finding something with a torch or head torch in a dark environment. It aims to mimic the way we interact with consumer technology, in terms of us having to activate its use. There are a few questionable elements to this idea, most importantly the word FUNCTION in artwork. Instead of simply being a reactive gimmick, this element aims to question the necessity of consumer technology’s reaction to the user. Given the intimate and personal nature of smartphones, smart watches, laptops and tablets, the simple, easy to use interfaces give a false perception of connection. Obviously my iPhone works no differently to anyone else’s (other than maybe the cracked screen thats been there for far too long), but still, I feel an intimate connection to it as it stores and gives access to my sensitive information, calendar, social media profiles, contacts, emails, even books and articles. This reliance on the interface, particularly touch screen technology, is fluent in our society and will only grow as we find more uses, or indeed a more advanced interface. (Look at Google’s Soli Project). Alongside this idea of discovery, I’m interest in looking at temptation and addiction.
The AppleWatch, another piece of consumer tech that the naysayers couldn’t find any use for, but since its release, has been particularly successful. One of the most interesting and questionable of its uses is online betting. Late night TV is riddled with adverts for betting apps. All of these sell their product on the fact that its too easy to use, you can bet wherever you like, and in any way you like, be it slots / roulette / black jack / football / boxing etc. The AppleWatch is no different, and as it interacts with the apps on your phone, these betting options take themselves to a new level of accessibility. There is no longer any need to get your phone out of your pocket to place a bet on the football game your watching in the pub. Mix this fact with a few too many drinks, and you have a dangerous interface upgrade for gambling addicts. This idea of digitally enhanced addiction I find very interesting indeed. Can you be addicted to social media? the news? even the weather? (addiction to the weather is obviously absurd, but the desire for constant live updates of any kind is the point of all this). Is there potential for media addiction in this way? and what role does the interface play in this question?
Can this addiction relate to our bodies? The AppleWatch uses a new type of sensing technology to detect our heart rate and activity levels. This is not a new piece of tech, its just a new way of doing it. I believe they shine a light from the bottom of the watch, onto your wrist, and this somehow detects your blood movement. Health apps and health tech is rising fast as an industry. At the moment, there’s a very serious strain on the NHS, both in the hospitals and GPs. If this sort of technology could count our red blood cells, white blood cells, oxygen intake and every other necessary parameter to understand how healthy we are, could this help the NHS focus their efforts on the people who truly need care. This sort of technology would free up time for doctors and nurses, as they themselves wouldn’t need to take the tests. If we were given this technology, could we become obsessed, even addicted to monitoring our own health? There are many health addicts and gym monkeys around, but what if the first thing you checked in the morning were the parameters of your own body? This is a necessity for people with Diabetes and other serious illness, but if the technology was available, and had an easy interface, why wouldn’t this translate itself to the general, healthy public?
Again, this is a post with a lot of ifs and buts, and unanswerable questions, but there’s no doubt that they are both relevant and interesting to consider.
I’m trying to drive the idea of this Ultrasonic Circuit in the direction of consumer interfaces absorbing the user. This can be both for good and bad reasons. On one side, absorbing the user can benefit the creators (Betting apps, targeted marketing) or on the other it can benefit, not only you, but also the community (Disaster warnings, health advice, large-scale events.) Either way, like a moth to flame, we react to the interface’s perceived awareness. On the negative side of this, I like the idea of comparing it to Anglerfish, the deep sea creatures that use lights to attract their prey, or even the Sirens, who attract men to sail too close to the rocks by the sounds of their voices. This is best known from The Odyssey, yet, Odysseus (or Ulysses) cleverly warned his men and told them to put cotton wool in their ears to stop them from being distracted. In the end, i guess this post has come down to the ideas of discovery, temptation, addiction, their roles in consumer electronics and our role as the user to be aware of both the dangers and the benefits of an increasing reliance on personal, transportable interfaces.
The Siren, Edward Armitage, 1888
Ulysses and the Sirens, John William Waterhouse, 1891
An interesting point to end on is Candy Crush. A record breaking app thats played by 93 million players a day started by a company thats now $7.1 billion. Its simple game, heart-warming colours, candy and sounds are a temptation, and unfortunately the nature of the game itself is addictive. It benefits the creators and the users but still is there something a little odd about its popularity?
These are a few extracts from an article written by Dana Smith, a Psychology Graduate and Science Writer at The Guardian, April 1st 2014:
This is what Candy Crush Saga does to your brain
“First off, it’s simple. The premise of Candy Crush is basic enough for a preschooler – just match three candies of the same colour. Initially, the game allows us to win and pass levels with ease, giving a strong sense of satisfaction. These accomplishments are experienced as mini rewards in our brains, releasing the neurochemical dopamine and tapping into the same neuro-circuitry involved in addiction, reinforcing our actions. Despite its reputation as a pleasure chemical, dopamine also plays a crucial role in learning, cementing our behaviours and training us to continue performing them.”
“Steve Sharman, a PhD student in psychology at the University of Cambridge researching gambling addiction, explains that the impression that we are in control of a game is key to its addictive nature and is vital when playing a slot machine, for example. “The illusion of control is a crucial element in the maintenance of gambling addiction … [as it] instills a feeling of skill or control,” he says. “There are a number of in-game features [such as the boosters in Candy Crush] that allow players to believe they are affecting the outcome of the game, and in some cases they are, but those instances are rare.”
“Another feature of the game that strongly affects how we respond is the limit on how much we can play at any given time. Candy Crush effectively puts you into “time out” after five losses. This means you can never be completely satiated when playing and always leaves you wanting more. And by not letting you play, the game actually becomes even more rewarding when you are let back into Candyland. This is also how Candy Crush makes its money, letting you buy back into the game if you’re willing to purchase extra lives.
Researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia have demonstrated this effect, called hedonic adaptation, in a study using real-life candy bars. Participants were divided into two groups: one was told to abstain from eating chocolate for a week, while the other was given pounds of the stuff and told to go wild. After one week, the participants were brought back into the lab and given a piece of chocolate to savour.
The results? Those who had been deprived rated the chocolate as significantly more pleasurable than those who had been able to eat it freely. So it seems the deprivation makes the reward that much sweeter in the end.
Finally, it is no coincidence that the game is played with pieces of candy. As Sharman points out, food is often used in gambling games (think of the infamous fruit machine), tying our happy associations and the pleasure we derive from eating into the game. King acknowledges that candy’s positive associations help make the game more fun and relaxing.”
Another interesting aspect of Candy Crush, you gain lives if you manage to invite friends to the game…..
If you search Candy Crush addiction online, it comes across as a genuine thing, although its mostly people pretending their addicted, and joking about it…. are they joking?
How long do some of these 93 million people play Candy Crush a day? and what happens if they get it on their AppleWatch?….
In 2013 I was an avid Candy Crusher, I can happily say that I’ve gone well over a year without playing, and I have no intention of looking back… Hallelujah.