Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Final Project of ART 345

My final project was a short performance video. It was an exploration of sounds created by using various materials to play a violin. The reason I chose violin because I have played it for eight years and I'm really familiar with this instrument. I started it based on my interest, so it has taken a significant part in my life. I always enjoy listening to violin, but I'd never tried to see how many interesting sounds it can make. By having the opportunity from this final project, I would use different objects to explore the music of violin. Two major focuses for my project were to search uncommon sounds from it and examine various video effects.
My idea for the project was inspired by John Cage and his prepared piano. John Cage, a talented American composer, developed many playing styles in music performance. His works often involved using chance, unstructured composition, improvisation, and multiple techniques. His most famous work was 4'33", performed by the "silence" technique. 4'33" was consisted with three movements. When every movement started, the performer would closed the lid of piano, sat in front of it, and kept quite until the whole performance was ended. Although 4'33" seemed like a simple piece, it had applied many music theories. Because the instrument did not make any sound, all the sounds heard were all depended on how they interacted with the environment at that certain moment. In other words, the audience was the performer. 4'33"  could be performed differently every time depended on how audience wanted to react during the performance. It was a typical work that had used chance and unstructured composition. Among many Cage's works, I was really attracted by the prepared piano. He inserted objects between the piano's strings. When pressing the keyboard, various and unusal sounds came out based on which string contacted with which object. Furthermore, he made it as an improvisation piece, so the prepared piano was also a work performed with chance, unstructured form, and multiple techniques. The part I liked about it was its interdisciplinary. It combined a classical instrument with the objects that were usually not considered as a part of instrument, and created a playful way to perform music. A performance of the prepared piano was not the same as what we used to see in a concert, but it was not hard to understand the meaning of it either.
In the beginning process, I was planning to present my project as a live performance. Then I changed my mind to an interdisciplinary video because I wanted sounds had ability to interact with each other. By a video, I could overlay and rearrange the sounds.
Unlike piano, I thought it was more difficult to find objects that could make unique sounds to a violin. I also had to be careful to select items would not hurt my violin. After few days of searching, the final objects used in the video were: two strings tied around the violin, two pieces of a vinyl record, a 12 inch-long ruler, four key chains, two Ping-Pong balls, and a feather which was meant to pay Cage's respects. My most favorite sound was the on created by the Ping-Pong balls when tapping on the strings. Because the hollow structure of the balls, they made a funny twisted sound. Even though my project's idea was come from the prepared piano, nothing was placed on the strings or any part on my violin. The objects were only used for playing note and tapping the backside.
Originally, I wanted to use GoPro as my filming camera, but the one I borrowed might be broken because I wasn't able to turn it on. Therefore, I used my own Canon camera to do the filming. Before starting, I placed a navy blue blanket for the background so the viewer would not be distracted by anything on the back. Without using GoPro, setting camera to place I wanted really became a challenge, and it also limited filming angle. But in order to film from many angles, I tried to set my camera on violin by a stand, to tie it on some objects with rubber bends, and to held it by one hand when performed the sounds by another hand.
I edited my video by Adobe Premiere. I divided the performance into three parts. In the video, the first clip shown as the beat, and the other parts were just showing how I made the sounds. The three clips were not exactly match with each other was to show that it was an unstructured piece. To emphasize that point, I also put various visual effects, changed the size and moved the position of clips around. The problem I had faced was trying to completely overlay a clip on top of the other. I tested every effect in the blend mode of opacity section but many of them switched the footage to a strange color. Finally, I picked Color Dodge mode. Although it made the clip be slightly transparent, at least it did not change much on the color.
I got a lot of responds in the final critique. Most people reacted my video with a feeling of strangeness, even though I wasn't intentional to do that. More feedbacks were like wishing to see a score or to film myself when I was performing. I thought the score suggestion was good. I found out some audience was confused with the sound pattern because there was nothing served as the guideline. Filming myself was also a useful suggestion. But the reason I didn't do it was due to my discomfort of showing myself in front of a camera.
If I were going to redo the project, I would keep searching the perfect effect for the overlay part and made the transition smoother. At 1:37 in the video, there was a gap between the two clips. The disconnection was done on purpose, but the black screen was popped up as an accident. Also, I would make a graphic score so my audience could more relate to my performance.
One way of trying to set the camera
Took almost three hours for one of my sequence to be encoded

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Final Project of Art 343

The article I applied into my project was Détournement/Culture Jamming from the series of reading Society of the Spectacle. My plan for the project was to mock the actual value of luxury goods and bring up the audience’s attention to the consumption problem. Since a logo is the primary symbol of a company, I decided to slight change the logos and put them on daily products as a construction. In summary, the project would be five separately installations. The luxury good company would be: Apple, Burberry, Coach, Godiva, and Swarovski.
Starting with brief introduction of the reading. Détournment, also called culture jamming, is a technique Situationists use for their practice. According to the article, Détournment/Culture Jamming written by Zack Malitz, changing the cultural image as a way of mocking is easier to bring up people's attention and stimulate them to think what the purpose is. Because people are often more aware to the things they are familiar with, a tiny change can certainly lead to a strong reaction. Détournment is one of the applications of Situationist. Speaking about Situationist, it was originally established as an organization named Situationist International in 1957. Even though it was dissolved after 15 years later, many artists are still practicing its core concept all over the world.
You can always see how the crowds are so crazy about luxury products in every selling season. However, you also see several times a day just how people waste the things they can purchase easily. Throwing unfinished lunch or pulling ten pieces of paper towels at once to dry hands then throwing them all to a trash can seems to be so "normal" that we do not even realize we are creating a serious wasting problem. On contrast, many people buy luxury products which have less benefit for daily lives, but they would put efforts to maintain the products' condition. That is, we treat necessity goods and luxury goods in the completely different attitudes. We care less about the things we need for everyday and over-concern the goods with more expensive price. Thus, the goal for my project is to make my audience be more aware of this problem.
Apple Products
Apple is one of the most influence companies that have led the world to the new age with touch-screen technology. Even though Apple keeps developing new products, most of they are just the devices containing same content but in the different sizes. Apple Products was a three-set installation. Apple logo was put on an apple and two bottles of apple juice. I want it to show the construction between what people waste (food such as apple and apple juice) every day and what we hardly see people throw them (Apple products) without any concern.
Human has a long history of using animal fur as a way to insulate the body from coldness. However, it is now a symbol of showing a person's social status. In this October, an animal protection organization Four Paws launched an online activity against Burberry to save foxes from fur farms. I made three bands with Burberry logo and its classic pattern on them. Then I tied them around the fox plush toy's feet, tail and eyes. I thought the message in this installation was strong and easy to understand. However, the only problem was that the installation was kind of unique by itself. In other words, it was more like a single project compared to the other installations which still had a level of connection with each other.
A Pack of Coach
The Coach installation reflected the consumption problem of tissue. In every Black Friday, I go to Coach outlet just to help my friend's to buy bags. I often see people check out with lots of bags. Coach has a restriction policy about one person is allowed to purchase only ten bags for maximum at once. The limiting rule on luxury goods and the wasting of paper products were the inspiration for this installation, which was a poor-made Coach purse contained a stack of facial tissue.
Lady Godiva Riding on a Pony
The installation meant to be viewed in a joke. The pony doll I got was a toy from McDonald. Instead of the horse on the logo, a low-cost pony constituted a sharp contrast to the lady Godiva symbol that represented high quality chocolate. In order let people see it from any angle, I made an image of the backside of lady Godiva. I was really satisfied with that part while working on the project.
Swarovski's Rice
Swarovski has been famous for its glass figures and other jewelry products. Because its logo has a fog-like effect at the posterior side of the swan, I used rice for an attempt to mimic it. At the final, I also spread glitter on top of it so the image looked more like a glass products. This was the most time-consuming works and my most favorite installation among the others. But fortunately, the feedback from my audience wasn't good as I expected. Perhaps the connection between rice and glass figures was too hard to be figured out, since rice is not exactly the staple food in the U.S.

During the final critique, I was suggested to make a performance video which was like throwing an Apple into a garbage can while playing with my iPad, in order to allow people to receive the message more easily. But after thinking about it for a while, I still considered the installation was a better way for my project. I wanted the message just popped out in front of my audiences' eyes, no matter if they got it immediately or not. I wanted them to figure out by themselves. On the other hand, I made my project with less-abstract content so the audience could understand what it's about by thinking slightly. I hope when people saw my installations they could start to concern about the wasting problem of necessity products in this country. But my final goal was to make people use necessity goods more moderately.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Reading Assignment 6: Notes on Photograph & Accident

As it described in the title, this reading was a quote collection and the exploration written in a diary style by Moyra Davey. Her primary goal was to find out the meaning of “accident” in photograph and why it is still important in current practice of photography.
Davey mainly referred to how Walter Benjamin, Susan Sontag, and Janet Malcolm defined accident in photography. Benjamin believed it meant a truth, a tiny truth that could be captured by a camera. Sontag thought it was about surrealism. She mentioned, “Surrealism lies at the heart of the photographic enterprise…has always courted accidents, welcomed the uninvited.” Then for Malcolm, who thought about accident based on psychoanalysis, it represented the unconscious of our vision.
At first, Davey provided a very subjective definition, saying accident was something that originally stayed out of the composition. However, after doing more research, she concluded accident was the “chooser”. That is to say, a picture and an accident choose when and how to be taken by photographer. Accident is not literally an accident; instead, it is a selector.
           Among the definition given by the three artists and Davey, I agree Benjamin’s the most. Because of various photo-editing software, now it is extremely simple to change photos in whatever way we want. An accident in a photograph tells viewers what was happen at the certain moment. As how Benjamin thought, it becomes a truth. But I also think this definition will be changed soon. As I mentioned about the editing software, it is already capable to fix the “accident”. Photograph has always been used for recording the truth. But when a truth can be changed or adjusted easily, it is not a chooser either. Then, what will be the meaning of photograph & accident?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Project 4: Light Box

      When thinking about the light, sun was the first thing came out in my mind. Then I used sun as my basic idea. When I first came to the U.S, Las Vegas was the first place I stayed. I had been in that city for three years. In Vegas, you can have sunny weather almost everyday since it's in a giant desert. So I drew a landscape of desert, representing the classic view of Vegas. I didn't consider about drawing casino because I didn't feel any connection with it. In the class, I was asked why I chose cactus rather than Joshua tree. I think it was probably because of my brother. He likes to take care of cactus, so there are many potted cactus in my parents' house. I used to see them a lot and I feel more familiar with cactus than with Joshua Tree.
      Unfortunately, I did my image with the wrong size so it ended up with being trimming a little bite. But I thought it still worked great on the light box.

Reading Assignment 5: Clusterfuck Aesthetics

The author Jerry Saltz is a famous art critic in the U.S. In this article he talked about the meaning of clusterfuck aesthetics thought his reviews on some artists’ pieces and installations. Clusterfuck aesthetics is the beauty in a huge amount of chaos. In the way of how Saltz described, it is "a manic-depressive panic attack in the face of information overload; a disagreement to minimalism; and a way to fill space to grab attention.”
The author Jerry Saltz is a famous art critic in the U.S. In this article he talked about the meaning of clusterfuck aesthetics though his reviews on some artists’ pieces and installations. Clusterfuck aesthetics is the beauty in a huge amount of chaos. In the way of how Saltz described, it is “a manic-depressive panic attack in the face of information overload; a disagreement to minimalism; and a way to fill space to grab attention.”
Saltz used John Kessler's the Palace at 4 a.m and Mike Kelley’s Day Is Done as the examples of clusterfuck aesthetics. Kessler’s project was consisted of various objects. These visual complexes were related to the global issues we have today. Then Day Is Done was a project that contained 365 installations. Based on Kelley's plan, they were all independent works but could also connect with each other. Most works in Day is Done came from Kelley's personal experience of growing from a teenage to an adult. Both projects were built with multiple media, following the basic idea of clusterfuck aesthetics.
It was not an article that can be understood easily. Like Maria Lind's Returning on Bikes, Saltza hided his thought behind the artists' works. Therefore, knowing the example he gave is helpful to get his message. Clusterfuck Aesthetics requires readers to know not only the article itself, but also the projects Saltz had talked about. At the first sight, this beauty of chaos seems only to contain disruption without any proper meaning. However, inside this huge chaos, every detail is arranged in a perfect order.