Lecture: John Marchant (Nan Goldin)

This week we looked at the work of Nan Goldin, a photographer known for her controversial images. The lecture was led by John Marchant, a gallery owner who worked closely with Nan Goldin. The thing that captured my attention the most was when he was talking about the fact that her photographs of teenagers are actually completely unedited. These photographs portray a sense of rawness and authenticity in relation to these teenagers. By using this method, she wasn’t following the rule of photography and just creating content that felt real and representative of her subjects.

Additionally, he mentioned that when he looked at the range of photographs she presented to him, he picked one but she told him it was a good choice but a wrong choice at the same time because the other photograph had an uneven horizon which in the end will be more successful according to Goldin. I think the message he is trying to portray here is that if you do not follow conventions you can gain significant results because it attracts more attention. Her work doesn’t really relate to or address any of the concepts that I have been exploring so far, however this concept of defying conventions was very inspirational. I can relate that to the creation of my project in a sense that I could look into defying specific online conventions such as not having a particular aspect that people expect to see on a website. I hope that I am able to similarly defy conventions with my own project and create something unique.

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Gallery

Shadi Ghadirian

Shadi Ghadirian’s photographs ‘draw from her own experiences as a modern woman living within the ancient codes of Shariah law. Her images describe a positive and holistic female identity, humorously taking issue with the traditional roles by which women – both in the Middle East and universally – have been defined’ (Gallery, 2016).

These images grabbed my attention because they seem to be visually similar to the the themes that I have been exploring since the start of this class. Specifically, the themes of blurring/covering the face and the persuasion of advertising companies to consume products. While these images could appear quite literal, I think using kitchen utensils adds humor into the piece which is definitely something positive about these photographs. I also think the fact that you cant see any part of the person behind the blankets, captures the curiosity aspect of the viewer, making them more attracted to these pieces. I do not think I will actually use home utensils in my project but I was really inspired by the use of the blanket to cover an identity. I really want to create something similar in my project. I want to create an ambiguous identity that will force the audience to ask questions in relation to these identities and therefore attract their attention to my website. I also really want to use humor in my website. I think using humor could evoke a lighthearted feeling in the users of my own website, which will capture their curiosity and allow them to lower their guard down against the digital and will intrigue them enough to follow the website and therefore open their mind to the overall theme that i’m trying to portray through my website.

Bibliography:

Gallery, S. (2016). Shadi Ghadirian – Artist’s Profile – The Saatchi Gallery. [online] Saatchigallery.com. Available at: http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/shadi_ghadirian.htm?section_name=unveiled [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Loop.Coop Present: Bemusical Chairs Questionnaire and Reflection

Questionnaire:

Describe the work (material, technology, space it sit within)

This piece is a structure that is constructed using wood, rugs, ropes, lights and pillows. There are three benches around the inside of the structure and the lights are circulating from within the wooden parts. There are also two pillows right in the centre. The piece itself is located in a busy market.

What do you think was its process?

From the wooden parts, it is clear that there is a lot of craftsmanship that went into this piece. The wooden pieces are cleverly cut by a carpenter so that each piece fits into the other piece, almost looking organic while at the same time opposing that by creating geometrical shapes that might not happen in nature. The lights were carefully placed inside each wooden block which also probably required hard and detailed work of a programmer.

How much do you think the work may cost?

I would think around 1,000 to 2,000 pounds.

Which individual, what organisation may have contacted to make the work happen?

I was thinking that the reasoning behind this piece is to encompass a person into a private space right in the middle of a busy market so it could be part of an organisation trying to relieve anxiety and stress.

What are the levels of interactions? (how did you behave with the work? how others behaved with the work?)

You can touch the entire piece, specifically the lights and the wood which captured my attention and that was the first thing I did. You could also sit on the wooden benches inside the piece or on the rug in the middle which helps interact and observe the piece as a whole. My reaction was to touch everything and sit in the middle right away but I have noticed that some people stood outside the piece as if they were unsure or afraid to interact with the piece which I though was interesting. I think this could be because as a society we are always reminded never to touch anything that doesn’t belong to you, especially art pieces so this could maybe reflect on how the society is more reserved

Do you relate/identify with the work? if so how? if not, why?

I think if the piece was intended to help deal with anxiety then I can see how providing a place that has rugs inside which people often associate with their home which also constitutes a safe place. However, I wasn’t sure if the piece was working appropriately and therefore I didn’t feel like I could really relate to it.

Can the work be perceived politically?

I definitely think that by incorporating wood into the piece the artists could be addressing environmental issues and raising awareness towards nature. This work could also relate to the work of Dominic Wilcox who aims to stimulate creativity and remind us that in the midst of our busy lives, it is important to be creative.

What do you think the work is for?

I think the work is for everyone shopping at the Open Market. The space this piece is located at plays a key role in the type of audience that it attracts. This could be parents with children or just everyday people (general public). I think its main purpose is to provide a safe space to get away from the busyness beyond the open market while at the same time re-introduce nature into the world where people don’t often expect to see it.

Reflection:

The one thing that really surprised me was that the piece actually cost 15,000 pounds and not 2,000 as I had previously expected. However, when we were told the actual cost of the piece, it put everything into perspective. This made me think about all the actual work that went into the making of this piece such as publication costs, location rental costs, the materials as well as many other expenses. This really made me think about the costs involved when making my own project and that in order to realize the project it is necessary to be realistic about its production and its costs. Thus, a piece that seemed pretty  straightforward to me ended up being a lot more complicated in its making. This made me aware of the costs and work that goes into a project for the future.

Additionally, this piece was targeted at kids. This could be somehow understandable based on the fact that it could be argued that it was meant to be playful in its nature and since there was a bouncy castle right behind the piece, you can see the similarities in the intention. However, I felt like the piece was not at all target at children mainly because of the hight of the benches and the rugs themselves had Persian patterns which was not childlike at all. Additionally, we observed a young child interacting with this piece and it was evident that he did not understand nor was he interested in this piece at all. He sat on the bench for maybe three seconds and then moved on. This could mean that because the piece was commissioned by the digital festival, the artists themselves didn’t have that much say in the publication of the even. Nevertheless, this piece made me realize that for my project I have to think about questions like how will I hold my target audience?

 

Visual Research

Inspiration 1: Source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/41752347/AgXXI-Website

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I was looking for aesthetic inspiration for my project and I found a project by Diana Polar, which relates to the concepts that I have been exploring earlier of how our true identity online is being manipulated and blurred and that we are being coerced into consumption online.

I really like how the women are portrayed in a blurry state, which brings an almost mysterious quality to the website. Right away, as soon as I saw the website I began questioning who they could be and why they are blurred. This could be useful for my project as the overall aesthetics of the website portray a sense of mystery and the clean and minimalistic font and colors focus all the attention of the viewer on the women portrayed. The colors portray a sense of sadness in the women.

Inspiration 2: Source: https://www.thebestdesigns.com/designs/fox-createur

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This above image has a similar aesthetic of blurring the face, however, while the above images portray a sense of mystery and the colors have a more sombre effect on the viewer, this image has a more surreal effect- making the man who’s face is obstructed by another image, look more comical rather then sad. The image looks almost out of place which brings up more questions of how the man ended up there and what this signifies. I think this ambiguity combined with a surreal, almost game-like effect, makes me more interested in what this website is actually trying to portray. I however, am not too sure whether I like the colors within this image though, I think the orange becomes too overwhelming and has a distracting effect. I do however, really like the ambiguity in this image, I would love to experiment with parts of this website in my own project.

Inspiration 3: Source: https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/149815125081695035/

I think this website also portrays a similar aesthetic of burring identity but in a different way. This website uses a bright paint splash/stroke, in a variety of pastel shades, which seems to erase parts of the body of this woman. Looking at this website makes me  imagine how it would look in an animated state. I think this could be something that I can experiment with later. I also really like the contrast between the minimalistic background and the bright yellow paint. I think this contrast attracts the attention of the audience and  makes them want to discover what is hidden behind this paint.

 

Human Face and Identity

I earlier started looking into the concept of blurring the face as representation of the fact that our real identity is irrelevant online and that we are simply just an ‘IP address’ used to persuade us to buy something. Similarly, blurring of the face then also becomes a visual representation of how identity of the users on the Internet is being manipulated. I wanted to therefore explore the existence of academic literature on the general concept of the human face as a representation of identity and use this research to understand whether the face is a visual symbol for who we are as a person. I have been also thinking about my project and how I want it to maybe encompass the themes of we are not just a source of information and data, we are human beings with real emotions and real identities. In order to explore these themes further I looked into more theoretical research on the concept of the face as a representation of our identity and how that has been used in the modern world as a source of surveillance.

Quote #1: ‘In daily live human recognize others by looking at their face’ (Warnars, 2014, p.1).

I think this quote is important because it emphasizes that the face acts as a very important feature of our identity because it serves as a visual aspect that helps other recognize you as an individual who’s face is different then that of other people. Therefore it is a vital visual feature of our identity.

Quote #2: ‘Computer technology as a part of surveillance tools has been extended as think like a human not just only to record the video picture but doing the surveillance by recognizing human face’ (Warnars, 2014, p.1).

This quote mentions something that I haven’t really thought about before which is the fact that when computers are recording and surveilling people, they differentiate between these people by associating individuals with their faces. Therefore, the face becomes a primary role in the process of surveillance. The article mentions that the ability of computers to recognize and differentiate a human face gives them a human quality. This made me really interested in this topic and I now really want to look into the concept of concealing the face in an effort to subtly go against this norm of being recognized by the computer. I thus think that this article overall reinforces the fact that the face is a vital part of our identity and that this is what I will address/ incorporate into my website..

Quote # 3: ‘The idea is to transform human face as number which can be saved as primary key in database’ (Warnars, 2014p.2).

The article also discusses the possibility of a world center for a human face database. People want to develop a way to turn a face into a numeric form in order to store and record data more efficiently. To me, this sounds very dangerous as there is no way to be certain about the consequences of this. I think that surveillance both offline and online by these technologies has taken on a whole new level in the recent years and I think people need to be more aware of the full extent of this.

Bibliography:

Warnars, S. (2014). Human Face as human single identity. CoRR, [online] abs/1405.6168. Available at: http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.6168 [Accessed 3 Nov. 2016].

Laurence Demaison

In relation to the project that I mentioned earlier about blurring the face, I wanted to look at other artists and creators that have done something visually or conceptually similar. Thus, I found these self portraits by Laurence Demaison. I became really interested in the fact that ‘rather than portraying her body as it was, she sought to conceal, modify, even destroy it and reconstruct it'(All-about-photo.com, 2016). I think that the concept of modifying the face, a feature that makes us recognizable to others, is something very visually striking and I think has a dramatic impact on the audience, making them question – Who is this woman? Why is her face covered? Is it just one person or are there many women being masked as one? These questions add a sense of mystery that I think I would like to recreate to some extent in my own project. I like the almost disappearing, shadow effect of the face which almost makes her look ghostly and mystical. Maybe I will create some mysterious identity that will guide the users through my website? I definitely want to explore this theme of masking the face and apply that to the aspect of digital data.

Bibliography:

All-about-photo.com. (2016). Laurence Demaison Photographer – All About Photo. [online] Available at: http://www.all-about-photo.com/photographer.php?name=laurence-demaison&id=65 [Accessed 3 Oct. 2016].

Visual Research- Starting Point

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In the previous post I looked at Taylors article ‘Is Technology Stealing Our (Self) Identities?’ in which he mentioned that the private and public self has become blurred or erased completely. This made me think about the project that I have worked on in my free time earlier this year, in which I experimented with different materials and created these pieces. I think they could be a good starting point for my project because I think that the blurring of the faces in each piece, aesthetically, has some interesting visual connotations that I want to explore further. I think this could relate to the concept that we are concerned with how we are portrayed online yet we are also just seen as an ‘IP address’ that is used as a source of data for advertising companies to then target us as consumers and persuading us to buy their products. I think that the constant surveillance and record of the data that we produce could represent the fact that the companies are not actually concerned with who we are as an identity but rather, they are concerned in only manipulating our needs for their own good. Therefore, I feel like blurring the face could act as representation of the fact that our real identity is irrelevant online and that we are simply just an ‘IP address’ used to predict what you will like to buy.