Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Homework Assignment #6

For my last assignment, i added a small text portion to the wikipedia page on kissing under the Health Benefits section, detailing the many dangers of that kissing represents; namely pregnancy.

here is what i added:

Here is what my addition contains, in case the picture is unclear:

"On another note, kissing while not officially married by the Catholic Church or a certified member of said religious faith will result in immediate pregnancy. However, if you are engaged in any of the following actions, pregnancy can be avoided:

1. Going steady

2. Confession

3. If it's after a big football game and your boyfriend is the quarterback

4. Using suranwrap while kissing

Good luck to all unmarried youngsters waiting to explore the wonderful world of kissing. Just remember, if you're not married, there's always the following options:

1. Heavy petting

2. Holding hands

3. Porn"


Friday, November 5, 2010

11/5/10 Assignment


At first this question stumped me in a very unfamiliar way: I could not think of one example of something that might be considered a hybrid piece of art. Should I look to things that are very recent as some people are likely to, such as remix culture or interactive digital installations perhaps? Or should I look to the past and find works that constitute hybrid works of art simply by being stepping stones in the expressionist evolutionary chain. Finally, I decided to use an example from my everyday life: a graffiti mural.

This mural (as pictured above, sorry for the poor quality) hangs in my living room, measuring about 3x6 feet, and taunts me everyday with the same question that you as a teacher have now posed to the class: what is art? Is it defined by something that you love, regardless of what it may actually be representing, or what specific intention the artist had when conceiving it? Is it defined by the skill with which it was executed? Maybe it is defined by it’s very existence, as has been propositioned in class discussion. I think it is all these things, and in a sense not any of them. Art is one of those definitions that no matter how hard you try or whatever best intentions you have of trying to define it will always remain out of our reach. And you will never convince me otherwise.

However, getting back to the point of this exercise, I would posit that graffiti is a hybrid art form in terms of both the works it generates and the history of its insemination. The works themselves are a mix of text and visual representation, images, emotions, slang terminology, unique graphic style and rich in counterculture overtones. Add to that the importance of where and when the graffiti is placed the work of art becomes a dynamic conversation between the artist and his/her public that no museum or art exhibit will ever rival. Think about it, not only is there a textual component, and a visual one, but also a million choices of where to screen it. The artist literally gets to choose his/her public, a choice many artists aspire to but few attain.

My mural illustrates some of my points more clearly than I can. For instance, if you look closely, it is very hard to decipher exactly what it says. However, it is not scribbles, it is not nonsense, it is simply an allusion to the artists expression, one that I might never figure out (a realization that has taken me some time to come to terms with, as I hate unsolved puzzles). The point is this: does the fact that I can’t understand what the mural says disqualify it from the art world? Or does it simply add another layer. Or, is it just the illegal scribblings of a punk? All valid questions.

At the core of our discussions lies a theme that has disturbed me for some time. Everything we have talked about, from cyberculture to Panopticism, has had a dark underbelly focused on the defining of things one way or another in changing times. In my opinion, this is not so much a question of definitions, but a question of our right to be wrong, or to have a right to be anything at all. With the emergence and speed of such revolutionary ideas and technologies as we have been discussing, why is there so much fear about categorization? Is it because it is becoming obsolete? Maybe. Or is it something deeper, some primal need to have things fit into their little spaces in the universe. Come over and look at my wall and tell me what you think.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Personal Avatar


Assignment #2


In an effort at honesty, I have to say that I approached this assignment with some trepadition. On the one hand, I love discussing topics that deal with digital media, the web, and the ever-evolving nature of humanities fascinating relationship with digital media theory. On the other hand, when I started to consider how to formulate a cohesive discussion about someone else’s online avatar I came up against a few minor difficulties.

If I’m going to attempt to look at an avatar online and compare/contrast it to my own, using some critical framework, I would be assuming that the avatar is to be treated as a text, like any book or painting etc. However, the nature of avatar’s is that anyone can have one. I could be critiquing a 13 year old’s prank, or a homicidal maniacs attempt at social assimilation. The possibilities are endless. In thinking about this as a text that needs to be analyzed, I came to the conclusion that this exercise will be, not to say useless (because thinking is never a waste of time), but in this case maybe not true to the intent of the assignment. I will try to illustrate my point with an example: very few people can write a novel on par with say Jane Austen, but anyone with a web connection and a basic bare bones computer can have an avatar. So my difficulty with choosing this kind of text to analyze is simply this; I don’t know how serious to take someone’s avatar. I would take a Jane Austen novel seriously on principle. I cannot do the same with an online avatar. Having said that, I am going to try anyway.

During our class discussion this afternoon the topic of the Panopticon arose. As literary and social theory goes, this is my favorite subject to explore, as I find the idea of a society watching and regulating themselves by the mere suggestion of a hidden, all powerful watcher somewhere in the world intriguing (I also might have read 1984 too many times). However, as I was trolling the internet for an interesting avatar to critique, I came upon a man using a South Park style characatured avatar of himself. This struck me as very much like my own simple pixelated avatar, in that it could be construed as too things. First, they are both very simplistic avatars, begging the question; is it just a joke to be dismissed? Second, they both serve to handily deflect any prying into who we are as people. As I mentioned in class, there is a shadow virtual world out there, and in it is a shadow virtual representation of myself and everyone who uses credit cards, rents movies and so forth. What I found interesting about this guys avatar that I found was that, like me, he seemed to be aware of his online presence, and at the same time understood that while he might not be able to avoid being a part of the virtual panopticon, he could certainly make it so that it took less notice of him. In a sense, I see both his and my avatar’s as deflection shields, aware of the Panopticon’s power and yet still doing our best to have a modicum of control within it.