Dear Tutors: 1-12-2012
For those of you who don’t know, I am third year Time Based Art and Digital Film, on exchange from the U.S.A. and just received acceptance to study here in Dundee for a second semester. What follows is my statement and explanations of work. A lot of it explains supporting work and should be a good way to explore my research without trying to navigate my sketchbook. However, if you’re feeling ambitious and think you can read my handwriting, please go for it! I have written a key for my sketchbook to try to help navigation of someone else other than myself! The recorded tutorial from week 7 is displayed, and has a tab, in my sketchbook on my table.
Introduction and Background to my coursework:
My interests vary largely, but one main theme that keeps recurring is the relationships people share- with each other, with technology, with art, with time, and with space. Furthermore, I am intrigued by the relationship that people have with others through these things- technology, time, and space. The overriding theme of my personal work is technology and human interaction.
I have been an observer most of my life, but I really started investigating these relationships when the Twilight Phenomenon began. I wrote a research paper on Twilight last year trying to figure out why teenagers had grown obsessed with a fictional world. I soon found out more and more interesting things about the series, teenagers, and the way humans think. This study also revealed a lot about people to people relationships. One stunning example is a leakage of one of Meyer’s (the author of Twilight) books online- Midnight Sun. She stopped writing this book after the incident, and said she didn’t feel involved anymore. However, there are online petitions to make her release a full, finished novel. This is an attempt at a legal petition to Meyer’s intellectual property to be released! This paper is more about the process I had this semester, not a research paper, so I will stay on topic- but if you’re interested in what I discovered you can view this paper online in my previous post.
This reaction of fans of Twilight to Meyer’s decision to not write really interested me. And Meyer’s action of not-writing a novel also interested me. How often do people throw away ideas? Or not acknowledge good ideas? How often do people disregard each other’s thoughts and bodies? How can we be so much more interested in technology, or in fictional worlds, than in our own reality, our own people around us? Do we do these things to ourselves? Can you have a real relationship in a world mediated through a screen?
Now just as a disclaimer, I don’t hate technology. In fact, I love technology! I love the internet, social networking, and being able to create something beautiful –whether it is physical or digital. I love being able to study in a completely different area of the world, yet still be in contact with distant, loved ones. But for me, I would much rather be able to indulge in life around me and with people without a screen between us. The dynamics of relationships change with how you interact- directly or indirectly.
This semester I focused on technology’s relation to time; and how that affects us as people. How short is the life span of a cell phone? A computer? A television? A fanatical, fantasy world? Skype? Facebook? And when these things ‘die’, how quickly we replace them! We don’t have the stages of mourning as if these objects were living, but these things are often more a part of our lives than some people are. And youth today are very invested in the relationship they have with their phones and their computers. Yet, these things are replaceable, interchangeable. A perfect replica of the old thing, or sometimes, even better with upgrades or improvements. What if we did this- ditched old friends because the next guy has something even better? With this type of relationship becoming so mainstream, how is today’s youth going to have relationships with each other?
Well for starters, today many relationships are started online. Many people decide to have a relationship before they have even officially met in person. And many people, myself included, easily put physical space between their partner and expect internet to be able to maintain a ‘normal’ relationship. How long can relationships last over distance? What if you never meet? Technologies like Skype really help human begin to overcome time and space. This is one of my favorite technologies!! I am literally amazed by what we are capable of doing. I am able to speak with my family but I am five hours ahead of their day, and they are oceans away. The oddity of being able to see me-and for my parents to see themselves through an unflattering webcam-is still a feat my parents have yet to master. Skype obviously has its problems- it dropped calls and has a really slow response sometimes, but it is still great software. Technology is great and beneficial, but it can also cause many problems.
Computers break, information is lost, vehicles collide, and planes crash. Lives are lost, and transformed - in an instant. Today’s time allows for instant gratification to our good -and bad - decisions. For example, posting that terrible pissed picture, or sending that text message to the wrong person. Facebook can cause fights, spread viral, infectious, and false information. It can make something that is so natural and intimate, like sex or sharing secrets, so public; and in reality, completely oppose naturalness. But alas, this unnatural world is precisely the world we live in- where unnatural is normal. Where watching a movie that doesn’t show how a person arrived at where he is, or how he is standing and then we can’t see his feet. Watching edits should not feel natural. Talking to a computer should not feel natural. Leaving the ground to fly and land on other ground is not natural. It’s normal, necessary, and convenient. The luxuries offered by technology are immense and our ability as humans to create something so complex truly stuns me.
My coursework relating to the above concepts for this semester are as follows. The first project- Test of Time- was an installation. It was a structure, made of old hardware, old software manuals, and an iPad Skype-ing to a computer on the opposite side of the room. This was largely based on how people would interact with such a structure. The overall idea was based on how easily people trashed this old technology forming the structure, some even in working condition (before I got my hands on it). The installation was documented, and I made an excerpt video lasting 3:22. This was successful because during a group critique, people were forced to interact. Skype easily dominated the conversation when there was someone on the other side of the screen. A whole conversation had been derailed because someone waved at the camera. This was so interesting because it really did show a sense of disposability we have developed with face-to-face conversations and relationships. Someone would be talking and we would all- speaker included- direct our attention to the screen. I had a thought that maybe this isn’t how we deal with technology, but maybe just how we deal with art. On one hand, it is shown to be true by the amount of people who text while having a conversation, watch movies while talking, and message people when in a group setting, even at some points in the same room. In this setting of the studio space, it is not too farfetched to have the idea be that we are focusing on a ‘living’ artwork, but with past experience I would dare to say this is just becoming a human nature- the ability to avoid a serious conversation, or to have to look into a person’s eyes when speaking, and show emotions -not through punctuations, but with physical facial expressions.
While Skype dominates communication for long distance relationships, I still love the form of written, physical mail. It is hard to have a relationship with no physical closeness, and I’m not sure if the post, or the internet, can really provide that. Skype creates a fake closeness. I attempted to bring a sense of closeness by having half of an object here in Dundee, and half of an object at home- the object being pillowcases. It’s simple, but pillows are comforting; people need comfort, and home typically brings that. So these pillows attempt to bridge the distance gap in a more physical sense than Skype. I embroidered a quote about long distance relationships on the pillows so that only when the two are placed together they can be read, as well as two people chatting through solo cup & string ‘phones’, where the string is continuous to connect the pillows as the words would.
In order to try to make technology and art more accessible, physical, and interactive, I created another piece of work, Destruction, Creation, by the Public. I planned on having a ‘create your own sculpture’ day. In a space there would be loads of technology, old and new, along with sculpture building tools, a pedestal, and an instant-print Polaroid camera. The idea was that art students, and those not native to art, would come in and create something, document their creation, and then deconstruct it so another person could do this too. The photographs would be pasted to a board displayed next to the pedestal. This would involve people in the work, but also they would have to dump the work almost immediately after investing time into it; I want to see how easily people would be able to destroy what they made, would it be as easy as changing a phone? I really drew from Hamlet in a Japanese Manner by Eduardo Paolozzi in 1966. His sculpture could be arranged in any manner. I particularly love this mobility of art. I was disappointed that only curators were able to arrange, wouldn’t it be marvelous to see what a child would create? Yes, non-conformed art was a step in the right direction. But, I wanted to see the general public be able to arrange and participate! Drawing from these inspirations lead me to create Destruction, Creation, by the Public. This installation was supposed to occur November 16th, however some materials were stolen. I have found some replacements, however by this time there was not enough interest in this installation with assessments nearing. This is therefore a work in progress, to take place next semester.
My next project was an installation that occurred during assessment prep week. Since stress levels are so high at this time, I wanted to create a space for artists and students to be able to take a break and relax for a moment. This installation took place in the Perth road parking lot, in a four door white Fiat. Large amounts of sunlight were blacked out from the car, and a projection was displayed on the windshield of the car, only viewable from the inside of the vehicle. This installation still stems from the study of how people interact with technology, and how this technology creates its own little bubble separate from the world, like its own mini escape.
When left to idle, the mind can create wonderful things. A lot of my best thinking has been done in a car, and after a lot of research and discussion, a car was the perfect place to hold the installation. This piece is titled: The idling Mind. The idea was to create a dreamlike state using video and sound and then to create a place to engage the dreamlike experience. What a better way to take a break from your work than to physically leave the building, and to close yourself off from the day? I discovered in Liverpool (from the Bienneale trip TBA went on) just how important the location of the viewer was. There were on-site installations, and even in gallery spaces some videos were viewed in different types of rooms, structures, and settings, which drastically altered the meaning of a screen. I wanted to try to create something that isn’t originally viewed on a television screen. The video documentation included lasts one minute.
This piece worked differently than I expected originally. Where I am from, most people have a car, or access to a car, a license, and usually have to drive a solid 30 minutes to get where they need to be. Naturally, we spend more time in the vehicle and grow very close to it. The relationship with vehicles here are virtually non-existent; at least with many Scottish folk I have met. I did think there was still something to be investigated. Daniel Miller wrote Car Culture, where he explored various cultures interacting with cars. This was very interesting! The views portrayed in this book by the Aborigines towards their cars were very unexpected to me, and I was hoping to see, or experience, something different with Scottish culture and cars than with my own. I left a notebook and pen in the car, because I assumed there might have been some thoughts generated in the process of unwinding. There were no notes upon cleanup time. Perhaps they were written in their own books; or perhaps they were able to fully relax their mind and not generate thought. The playlist that I made for this project was listened to; “Air”- Bach’s meditative song was played twice, and two other soundtracks (made by me) were played once. Two were untouched. I’m not sure what this means, but it is definitely interesting. There were a few students who came out saying they felt refreshed, and that they had used the time as a meditation, or almost fell asleep. Perfect! (Except that I heard during this project that sleeping in your car in the UK is illegal, but only enforced in England, apparently).
As a supplement to my two main modules, I was attending an introduction to Maya (3D animation) classes in the animation department on Mondays. I have a short, simple bouncing ball animation I created there as a way to learn the program. It’s duration is only six seconds, and it is still pretty rough.
In addition to these above personal works, I collaborated with other artists during a few workshops at the beginning of the semester. Through these workshops we created a few short, professional films, each of these focusing on their own aspects of creation and concept. Room 1581 was a product of the lighting workshop, which was focused on team members working collectively, perfecting a space chosen by the professor, and trying out the camera while learning how to light a scene. Cup O’ Tea, The Bear’s Head, and The Running Woman were results of the directional workshop, which was more role-development and execution focused. All of these had time constraints as an added challenge. The credits are as follows:
Cup O’ Tea, (2:25 minutes):
Abigail Dryburgh-Artistic Director
Sharon Mottram- Sound Director
Alan McIlrath-Director of Photography & Writer
Michelle North- Producer
Melynda Roy- Editor
Jeppe Rohde Nielson-Actor
The Bear’s Head (1:06 minutes):
Jeppe Rohde Nielson- Director of Photography
Sharon Mottram –Producer
Sophie Morris-Art Director
Ryan Esson- Actor
Abigail Dryburgh-Actor & Writer
Room 1581 (2:06 minutes):
Jeppe Rohde Nielson
(Myself) Melynda Roy
Collaboration and Commercialism:
My final piece is in some ways collaboration, but definitely not in the same sense as the ones listed above. Celebrating Age and Volunteering is much more commercial, and lower tech. I worked for Volunteer Centre Dundee as the “Media Assistant,” offering my filming and editing skills to create a short film encouraging older people (past retirement age) to volunteer. I earned enough volunteer hours for a Saltire Award! Essentially, the Volunteer Centre came up with questions they wanted answered in hopes that the answers given would motivate an audience to sign up for volunteering. They chose and found the people we interviewed for the film as well. Interestingly enough, the parts we chose to keep in the video often didn’t match up to a certain question. We still used it anyway. This was a very interesting and difficult film to work on, but I think in the long run as a film, it is successful. Whether or not this video worked as a success in gaining volunteers, we don’t yet know. The premier of the short film is taking place at Dalhousie LT1 on Thursday, December 6th, at 11:00 A.M. as part of an event that Volunteer Centre Dundee is hosting that day. This film is 8:24 in duration, so I made a quick excerpt version (3:29 minute duration) to view for assessments to cope with time-per-student constraints.
The overriding theme of my personal work is technology and human interaction. I feel that I had a successful semester, learned a lot, and conquered many obstacles. I would like to say thank you to Dundee University for a great semester.
Melynda M. Roy
DJCAD TBADF 3