Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Project 1 - on our exposure to media (via directed advertising) - specifically focused around HIV/AIDS

This is one of the first sketches that I drew to plan out some of my ideas visually and see how they might fit together to convey my overall concept and message.


Here is a small thumbnail of my image for the first project! This is what I came to class with on the due date and presented for the class to observe and criticize. It is a combination of found images on Wikimedia and Flickr, as well as my own personal photographs of me and of others that I have taken, brought together and manipulated with Photoshop.

I'll be posting a thumbnail of my slightly revised final image soon!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Will Luers

The Walking Man (Phases 1-9) cc 2009

Check out the entire piece at:


This particular piece stood out to me as I was clicking round on It is a short black and white documentary type film, split into nine different parts, with each part containing a triptych of three different camera views of the narrative. The span of the video begins with the subject, a white male, who is lead from a hotel to a bus stop in Portland, Oregon, and from there he makes his way through the city engaging deeply with all of his surroundings. The narrator of the video is a computerized voice that comments on his actions, as he does things like investigates a public fountain, observes a portable potty, and interacts with geese in a park, and allthewhile offers some perspective into the purpose of this piece.

"Perception requires a forgetfullness; a deletion of rush of stimuli not relevant to the immediate goal."

This piece makes a very bold statement about how we as people go through everyday life in relation to our surroundings. Especially in a city such as in this video, people are bombarded with so much stimuli on a day to day basis, that they have nearly become numb to the fine details of what makes up each and every aspect of the landscape. City noise and great populations are great distractions that we take in and spit right back out. But what if we take that noise away? The subject in this video is filmed without sound in most parts, leaving only the visual aspect. We see him not only as a pedestrian, but as a curious explorer who wants to know the ins and outs of everything around him. He is not a regular passserby, living the mundane life of every other person travelling through the streets hurrying to their destinations. He stops at bus stops, park fountains, and all kinds of places to see what is really there. He looks past the function and use of everyday objects to seeing them as negative space. This concept is of great interest to me as a photographer who often views objects in this same way.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Life Sharing"

European New Media artists Franco Birkut and Eva Mattes launched a project in 2000 entitled Life Sharing that explored the concept of digital transparency, specifically playing on the term "file sharing", by breaking through the wall of individual safety and private identity in the internet world. Commissioned by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, these two artists designed a website ( that allows anyone to go to its home page, encounter an interface that resembles their own computer directory through which you can click and navigate, seeing images, text, software, and even personal e-mail. By putting their personal data onto public display, Birkut and Mattes investigate the relationship between files on a computer and the reflection of the computer's owner in such intimate information. They make themselves vulnerable to things like viruses and identity theft, not to mention putting themselves out there for the public eye.

information taken from:

What do I think?

The ramifications of this piece are highly controversial. The artists become way more than just two identities among the masses of other identities that peruse the internet daily. And at the same time, the viewers that browse this website and see their personal files and information are almost forced to become voyeurs that would otherwise be violating some level of personal privacy in a normal circumstance. This makes the idea of publicly displaying your privacy on a specific website for anyone and everyone to see pretty daring and thought provoking.

I really admire the way that this work seeks to transcend certain personal boundaries, not to mention safety measures, that are otherwise emphasized at every chance in society. I immediately think of what I have always been told since I can remember, especially since I have had continuous access to the vast world of internet communications in such a growing technological age - to never give out personal information to anyone or anything on the internet (full name, address, phone number, etc.) Although computers have provided a definite means for fast and easy communication for people all around the world, they have also greatly advanced our abilities to seclude ourselves off from those around us by having these personal computers that we spend so much time on and often depend on for personal gratification, getting work done, communication, entertainment, etc. The fact that we devote so much time and energy on computer and internet technology, yet still maintain this distance between ourselves and our digital identities by keeping as much personal information away from others' viewing makes this project quite ironic and intruiging.

These two artists are obviously interested in exploring the concept of a digital identity as a representation of an actual person. Something that makes this idea interesting to me is that it relates a great deal to what makes something a portrait of a person, specifically how every piece of information on someone's personal computer can define some aspect of their identity, what they are interested in doing or seeing, and how they go about navigating through the world digitally. As an artist who is very drawn to individual identity and portraiture, this is something that I would like to explore further.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Interactive Web Based Art: E-mail Erosion

Sculptor and installation artist Ethan Ham worked in collaboration with electronics and robotics designer Tony Muilenburg to create a mechanism that physically builds biodegradable foam sculptures that are manipulated only by actual e-mails that anyone on the internet can send. Supposedly, any person can log onto any working internet connection, compose a completely random e-mail addressed to, and press send. On the receiving end of the e-mail is a mechanism that reads the content of your e-mail and accordingly decides what action it will take to change or build upon the foam sculpture using basic rotations triggerings of spray bottle that squirts water to dissolve certain parts of foam. Perhaps the most interesting part of this piece is that, after you send this e-mail, you can watch the sculptural manipulation take place on a webcam that is broadcasted through the Email Erosion website. And apparently, you will also recieve an e-mail reply containing a webcam snapshot of the exact moment that you actually commanded the robot to perform its action.
This piece initially stood out to me because it is purely based on interaction. Since I am relatively unfamiliar with much of the "new media" that is emerging, or even most kinds of digital art, I often feel at a distance from understanding or feeling intruiged by images and works that appear on my computer screen. My computer has always been more of a technical operator that grants me access to essential ways of communication (e-mail, Facebook, etc.). When I think of creating art, I look immediately to what lies visually and spatially in the world around me, which is why I am particularly drawn to photography. Until now, I have not incorporated much of my work and others' physically tangible pieces into the digital world for manipulation and conceptual development.
This e-mail erosion concept for a sculptural piece is incredibly interesting because of it's incorporation of an everyday method of communication with a changable, interactive sculpture that is both virtual and physically tangible. I think especially the ramifications of this work rings clear through what it seeks to investigate about the extent of internet communications in relation to making art. It also attempts to break down a normally very distinct barrier between the viewer and the artist that is prevalent in many other media even outside of digital art. The fact that this piece is based on such an interaction between the artist and the viewer, combined with its utilization of e-mail communication (something that I certainly undermine!), is what draws me to Ethan Ham's work on the E-mail Eroder.
And, of course, I did open up my gmail account and type up an incredibly random e-mail addressed and set-up to send to, as I thought about what actions I would witness from the robotic mechanism. Keeping in mind that the mechanism was supposed to react differently based on the content of the e-mail, I think I typed something along the lines of, "What is this? The concept of this work both baffles and amazes me."
aaaaaaand SEND!
....I switch back to watching the webcam on their website.
... I wait a couple minutes, expecting to see some sort of abrupt and altering movement by the long metal arm that extended out from the machine towards the sculpture.
But nothing ever happened! I didn't even get a reply e-mail from them. :( What a disappointment, right?
I still think the concept is cool. And I'm assuming that since this piece was featured in something like 2006 that it worked at some point. Oh well!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Newwww blog

I've definitely never had an official blog before, and I'm not really used to exploring too far into the digital world for doing anything besides basic internet and word processing, maybe some small photo editting here and there. Very excited!