Media Arts Project – Week 12

This week, we had promising developments with sound/light interaction.

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Using an Arduino, Jasmine was able to make the lights trigger from sound. We experimented with using pitch, but ended up using volume as the trigger.

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There was a lot of testing and tweaking involved to enable all of the lights to be triggered. Some didn’t work initially, but Jas and Jane were able to work through the problem with help from Glenn.

We also had some issues with hanging the lights in the lampshades. All of the lampshades were unique and didn’t quite fit the bulbs perfectly. We created a temporary fix by creating a string cross inside the lamp shades, and hanging from the centre.

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We also experimented with a floor rug/sheet underneath the pots, in an attempt to hide the cords. We didn’t like the look of the sheet, and thought it would detract from the work.

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This week, we also decided that we preferred the arrangement of the lamps/pots in a cluster as opposed to dispersed around the room. This allowed viewers to walk around the work and view it from all angles and solved the cord problem (as we would create a stage and hide the cords under it).

My task for the week ahead was to create the wooden stage, so we could then experiment with height.

 

Media Arts Project – Week 11

This week we engaged in a lot of material experimentation to help us to continue to develop and refine the artwork.

We experimented with disrupting the position of the pots on the floor. Should we put some upside? In a cluster or occupying the whole place? We tested each of these questions by re-arranging the pots and observing the result.

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We also observed the different tones of the light and sound, and like how this variance added texture and interest.

This week, we resolutely decided to not use set design elements, and to keep the artwork stripped back, with just pots and lampshades.

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We noticed that when the door was slightly ajar, a crack of light coming into the room. We thought this was worth playing around with, so we experimented with using a projection onto the floor. In front of the projector, we fasted a sheet of paper with holes cut out, in order to create some shadows.

The result from this experiment wasn’t overly great, so we scrapped the idea and moved on.

We ran into some logistical/technical issues this week, such as how to hide the cords from the speaker. We decided to drill holes in the pots, and use a floor sheet or rug to hide the cords.

Media Arts Project – Week 10

In week 10, we tried experimenting with more ‘set design’ elements, as well as the idea of light and sound interaction.

Jane had brought vintage-y lampshades, which had tonnes of character and narrative.

We hung the lampshades with lightbulbs, and laid out the pots on the ground. Because of where some of the light bulbs were hanging, the lights threw a shadow of the lampshade tassels, which was an interesting effect.

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We also experimented with adding even more set design, like a lounger pouffe.

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I really liked the idea of playing with narrative, and was keen to experiment more, but after feedback from Mat and Jo, we decided against it. There was a risk of being too ‘prescriptive’, and we certainly wanted to avoid that.

Plus, the artwork was heading in another interesting direction. We realised this week that the pots/sound and the lampshades/light didn’t ‘speak to each other’, i.e, interact conceptually or literally. So, we decided to try to make them literally speak to each other – using sound/light senses and an arduino.

Media Arts Project – Week 9

This week, I met my group for the first time. I had joined the group ‘(Re)configuring Spacetime: Story-telling through Sound, Image, and Interaction’, as I thought it was the best fit for my practice.

During this first week, we discussed ideas around the artwork, ‘Storm Room’ by Janet Cardiff and George Miller. We were interested in the concepts around illusion/reality that this work explored.

After a brief and loosely structured conceptual discussion, we decided to launch into some material exploration/experimentation. We didn’t want to get too bogged down in refining ideas, and wanted to get started with the process of testing, experimenting, and ‘jamming’.

Jane had brought in some sound files of drops of water into pots, as well as kitchen pots. We played around with these, and discussed the various questions and ideas this material experimentation raised.

 

I really liked the direction this was heading, particularly the use of household domestic items. I think that these items are so loaded with memories and rich in meaning.

At this stage, we didn’t have a defined direction to head in, other than to keep experimenting and pushing the idea of absence/presence and reality/illusion.

Digital Identities: Digital Artifact & Contextual Essay

For my DIGC335 digital artefact, I chose to explore digital identities. My artifact, a ten-minute podcast, discusses a series of key questions related to the topic area, narrated by me. I feel that I’ve been able to create an artefact that satisfactorily fulfilled my aims in regard to both research and presentation for an audience.

My podcast can be accessed below:

My research began as an exploration of personal behaviour and ethics in digital spaces. I was interested in how our behaviours and choices online impacted ourselves and others, and felt that a how-to type guide to navigating digital spaces ethically would be useful to a number of audiences. Whilst I came across some relevant and encouraging research (namely by Ess (2013) in Digital Media Ethics), I had difficulty refining the scope of this broad topic area into something that was both manageable and appropriate. I felt uncomfortable about choosing and applying an ethical theory without a background in philosophy, let alone advising audiences on this. Upon reflection, despite the frustrations of the process, culling down the scope and topic areas was a critical step, as it allowed me to research with a level of depth that would not have been previously possible.

The aims of my research into digital identities changed and developed as my research progressed. For example, I wanted to know the basics of identity formation, and by researching this, I became curious about the concept of authenticity. As I began to explore authenticity and digital identities, and I wanted to know more about digital identities and performance – and so on and so forth. With limited previous understanding of identity formation, this exploratory process was essential before setting defined parameters.

Eventually I formed some central research questions. These were/are:

  1. What is identity? (definitions of identity, brief history of identity)
  2. Is online identity formation different from offline?
  3. How do we understand digital identities? (tropes/popular discourses)
  4. How do different platforms regulate our experience/understanding of identity?

Formative research resources included New York Times review of Appiah’s ‘The Ethics of Identity (the actual text was difficult to access for free), Future Identities, a UK Government commissioned report (2010) which included 20 independent papers, Davis’ (2010), blog article Identity work and the authentic cyborg self, Dino’s (2017) Modules on Butler: On Performativity, Krotoski’s (2010) Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important? and a number of case studies (Dollar, 2017; Harnish, 2017; Baxendale, 2017).

In my prezi and the final product of my artifact, a 10-minute podcast episode, I felt that I was able to answer, or explore possible answers for, the central questions I had outlined. By answering each of these questions, I was able to arrive at a thesis or central idea: that being online does not change identity formation fundamentally, but rather, brings an awareness to that multiple, fluid and contextual nature of identities. The production of the podcast was a learning experience for me, and I realized just how hard it is to get the tone right. Speaking about academic ideas, in a conversational way, is certainly a tricky thing, and perhaps something that could be improved with further practice.

Overall, I’ve found the research process interesting, enjoyable, and applicable to my own life (and I hope the lives of others). I feel that I’ve been able to create an artifact that summarizes a broad and complex area, which was probably the biggest challenge. With audiences in mind, I think the podcast could have been made to be more engaging than what I’ve presented – I’ll know for next time!

Reference List:

Davis, J. (2010). Identity Work and the Authentic Cyborg Self. [Blog] Cyberology. Available at: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2010/10/30/identity-work-and-the-authentic-cyborg-self/ [Accessed 21 May 2017].

Dolla, C. (2017). My So-Called (Instagram) Life. The New York Times. [online] Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/style/modern-love-my-so-called-instagram-life.html?_r=0 [Accessed 13 May 2017].

Ess, C. (2013). Digital Media Ethics. 1st ed. Polity Press, pp.27-35.

Felluga, D. (2017). Introduction to Judith Butler, Module on Performativity. [online] Cla.purdue.edu. Available at: https://www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/genderandsex/modules/butlerperformativity.html [Accessed 19 May 2017].

Freedman, J. (2005). ‘The Ethics of Identity’: A Rooted Cosmopolitan. The New York Times. [online] Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/12/books/review/the-ethics-of-identity-a-rooted-cosmopolitan.html?_r=0 [Accessed 12 May 2017].

Harnish, A. (2017). Me Vs. My Social Media Self: Why Gen Z Is The Saddest Generation. [Blog] Refinery29. Available at: http://www.refinery29.com/2017/03/146733/identity-crisis-causes-social-media-fake-world [Accessed 15 May 2017].

Krotoski, A. (2012). Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?. The Guardian. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/apr/19/online-identity-authenticity-anonymity [Accessed 19 May 2017].

Rachel, B. (2017). Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s ABC show Australia Wide axed. The Australian. [online] Available at: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/yassmin-abdelmagieds-abc-show-axed/news-story/ca014c3a23de97ff5dbdce630d16a26f [Accessed 10 May 2017].

The UK Government Office for Science (2013). Future Identity. [online] London. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/future-of-identity [Accessed 7 May 2017].

 

Digital Decision-Making: Blog 2

Despite the distinction between our lives and digital lives all but disappearing (we’re onlife), we often characterise ethics and civil engagement in online spaces as being categorically compromised.

In a show on ABC Radio National, commentator Waleed Aly explains how he believes the inherent structure of the medium of social media as a broadcast platform compromises our ability to have constructive dialogue, and to connect meaningfully with each other:

“Arguments and ideas that are tossed around are never really tossed around because all of those ideas are turned from engagement to performance. Every aspect of our lives, suddenly, whether it be argument over a political issue, a social issue, pop culture, or whether it is the endless tweeting of meals you’re eating—the thing that unites all of that is that it is an experience of performance.” – Waleed Aly

This reading of connection and civil engagement in digital spaces conflicts with a more utopian one. For example, sociologist Keith Hampton acknowledges the common assumption that social media makes us less connected and politically engaged, believing that, conversely, “people who use sites like Facebook actually have more close relationships and are more likely to be involved in civic and political activities.”

In his book Digital Media Ethics (2013), Charles Ess reasons that whilst many of the challenges we face online are similarly found in non-digital spaces, there are indeed ethical conundrums that are unique to online spaces, as well as the those that are familiar to a pre-digital world, but with new “wrinkles” (Ess, 2013) that have been inserted through our use of digital technologies.

Perhaps it’s not that digital platforms categorically repel or create ethical behaviour, but that we’re just navigating these “wrinkles” and need some time to help us insert our own value framework into unfamiliar territory. In my research, I want to explore some of the core ethical decision-making challenges that we face that are at least partially unique to digital spaces, and try to unpack some of these ethical complexities that are presented in a helpful way.

Updates and changes:

In my last blog, I introduced my area of research and attempted to document some of the reasoning that led me to define the direction and parameters of my project.

As I continue to research into the area, I’m realising just how complex and interwoven these discussions are – and how reducing all of this information into bite-sized how-to videos (such as I had planned) may risk over-simplification. I also began questioning the value of informing an audience in a very explicit way of a singular ‘correct’ approach to a given situation. I realised that, of course, it would be hugely naïve (and perhaps damaging) of me to suggest that there aren’t multiple truths and multiple correct solutions to ethical challenges. The relationship between disadvantage and access to the internet, also known as the digital divide, is just one example of how it is difficult to resolutely prescribe a singular ‘ethical’ path for our digital behaviour.

So, I’ve opted to shift the structure of the presentation of my research into a slightly more discursive format, to enable more complex analysis. To allow for this, I’ve changed the medium of my Digital Artefact from short videos to podcasts, which I feel are better suited to a conversational format. As I present each topic, I’ll be aiming to be explore issues using research and case studies, and asking constructive and generative questions, rather than simply informing. This is more in line with a value pluralist approach to ethics – which I think I like best.

I’ve also slightly altered my topic from the ones in my last blog. My new topics that I’ll be discussing (one per podcast episode) are:

  1. My Digital Self: Is my online identity harmful?
  2. Downloaded: Should I be consuming content for free?
  3. Big Brother: How much privacy should I relinquish?
  4. E-citizenship: Is my online behaviour strengthening democracy?

For each topic, I’ll be including academic research, and I’ll discuss a relevant case study. Whilst, I don’t want to be prescriptive, I do want the listener to gain something tangible from the episodes. So at the end of each podcast, I’ll leave the listener with ‘5  take-aways’ to help them feel empowered to navigate their digital lives more ethically.

Keep an eye on my blog for podcast one, coming soon!

MEDA301: Critical Analysis of Aki Inomata’s ‘Why not hand over a “shelter” to hermit crabs? – White Chapel’ (2014-2015)

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Central to Aki Inomata’s ‘Why not hand over a “shelter” to hermit crabs? – White Chapel’ (2014-2015) are three tiny, delicate sculptures which are based on, and are to-scale to, hermit crab shells. Potently, Inomata’s shells are embellished with designs of Western-style wedding chapels – an intriguing architectural phenomenon in Japan. Critical to the work are the innovative processes involved in its creation, namely 3D modelling and printing. These technologies have not only have assigned Inomata the tools to effectively realise her ideas, but have acted to reconfigure the meaning of the work through its materiality.

This analysis will initially describe the physical aspects of Inomata’s work, followed by an investigation into the technologies and materials used. Next, this analysis will explore Inomata’s process – both in her practice as a whole, and her intentions, investigations and experimentations in this work. This will be contextualized by a brief examination into the use of 3D printing and digital modelling in Art. Lastly, this analysis will identify and critique ideas and questions brought forth by the work. These include ideas around identity, migration and residence, our understanding of and relationship with non-human living things, and the notion of process as a fundamental component of the final work.

Physical aspects/description:

‘Why not hand over a “shelter” to hermit crabs? – White Chapel’ comprises of three sculptures on plinths in the centre-front of the work, a video projection on the wall behind, and two photos (printed on circular glass boards) either side.

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Central to the experience of the work are Inomata’s sculptures – the three hermit crab shells. The shells sit atop medium-height plinths, illuminated by a glowing base, and encased in perspex. On close inspection (and you’re invited to get close), the shells are strikingly intricate, detailed and exact for such a small-scale. The intimacy demanded of the work dictates that a viewer pays attention to finer elements: the natural grooves and lumps, weathered patches, and barnacles of the shell, and the towers, arches, spires and other iconic architectural elements of the Gothic-style chapel. The transparency of the structures is significant, as we’re able to see through to multiple layers of fine detail, adding even more pattern and complexity. Furthermore, the light from glowing base of the plinth gives the work a visual clarity, as each detail is illuminated.

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A minute long video is projected on to a wall behind the three plinths, and is of a hermit crab walking (?) in and out of shallow rock pools near a beach. The video is silent and minimal with no cuts, effects or text. The scale and location of the projection ensures we can’t miss the key element here: the intriguing, lovable, slightly absurd idea that instead of a normal shell, the crab is housed in a tiny, 3D printed model of a shell with an elaborate chapel atop. On either side of the video projection hangs photographs of hermit crabs wearing Inomata’s shells, in a similar beach location. The photos sit behind a glass sheet and are cropped in the shape of circles. Both the video and photos serve to document the sculptures in action, and to draw out the peculiar arrangement just long enough to invite a deeper questioning beyond the aesthetic. Without which the work, it could be argued, is in danger of becoming kitsch.

Materials/technologies used:

Inomata’s work is enabled by the use of new materials and technologies. Using CT scans, Inomata was able to study the shapes of real hermit shells, create 3DCG data, and design models. Designs of the western-style Japanese wedding chapels were then added to the shell models, and the final design 3D printed using a transparent plastic.

The materiality of the work as a 3D printed artefact, alongside its subject matter, inserts potent meaning into it. In recent years, innovations in accessibility to 3D printing has ensured it’s heralded as an innovation that’s poised to have significant cultural, economic and social implications[1] (if it isn’t doing so already.) The very idea of this possibility, as we find ourselves amidst rapid change and disruption brought about by digital technologies and connectedness, ensures that the use of 3D printing in is inherently loaded. It’s easy to see how its use could be unsettling – even confronting – as a viewer becomes acutely aware of the proficiency of 3D printing. This is only heightened by coupling technological innovations with the beach and animals, motifs of the natural world. As we observe an exact, even enhanced, replication of a natural phenomenon, deep fears are brought to the fore. As humans, we’re challenged to question: If complex, ancient, and somewhat mystical processes such as the forming of shells can be replicated, what is sacred? What is our birth-right and innate privilege as living beings, if the work of nature can be replicated?

Inomata’s process and practice: How did Inomata experiment, investigate and iterate to create this work?  

Inomata’s practice is characterized by an exploration of human concerns such as identity and culture, through use of non-human living things. In her words, Inamata “collaborates” with living creatures [2] By doing this, Inomata has been able to bring an awareness to humankind, and processes occurring in our societies. For example, in a previous work, French Lessons with a Parakeet (2010), Inomata documents herself doing, quite literally, what the title states. In another, she makes a coat for her dog out of her own hair, and a coat for herself out of her dog’s hair. [3] By relocating language and clothes, characteristically human concepts, onto non-human living thing, Inomata prompts us to view these ideas, and our human-ness, from a new standpoint. We’re enabled to view our own rituals and traditions with the objectivity of an outsider – and thus faced, perhaps, with the quirkiness and frivolity of them.

In ‘Why not hand over a “shelter” to hermit crabs? – White Chapel’, Inomata continues her investigation of human beings through a collaboration with non-human creatures, whilst also deepening and expanding her project through use of 3D modelling and printing technologies.

Inomata’s process for ‘Why not hand over a “shelter” to hermit crabs?’ began by visiting an exhibition titled “No man’s land” (2009), which explored the history of the French Embassy in Japan. Interestingly, the embassy belonged to France until 2009, then become Japanese, and after 50 years, will be handed back to France. This peaceful transition of national ownership intrigued Inomata, who “was surprised to hear this story…while it is the same piece of land, our definition of it changes.” She likened this process to a hermit crab changing it’s shell (hermit crabs routinely choose or are forced to change shells). This initial investigation into the story of the French embassy in Japan and into the characteristics of hermit crabs evolved into a multi-year project exploring the transience of our identities, the role of residence and national identity.

It’s clear that like many artists, Inomata has enabled this project to evolve through material and conceptual investigations over several years. Inomata explains that CT scans weren’t originally planned to play a role in her process. In her first iteration of the work, she used “spherical shapes” for the shells, rather than a model informed by 3DCG data. But when tested with hermit crabs, they ignored these shelters – so Inomata modified her approach. This iteration not only exemplifies an exploratory approach to art-making, but reveals a signature part of Inomata’s process: collaboration with living creatures. The development proved to be pivotal, as Inomata’s work was then not only physically altered, but injected with the cultural potency of using new technologies.

Inomata’s work has also developed conceptually as her creative research progressed. ‘White Chapel’ is the second series in ‘Why not hand over a “shelter” to hermit crabs?’. In the first, Inomata embedded cities from around the world onto the shells. In White Chapel, Inomata instead focuses on one architectural phenomenon: the proliferation of Western and Christian-style chapels, purpose built for weddings, in Japan – a country with whose Christian population comprises of only 1%. For me, this iteration enhances the work significantly by injecting a cultural dimension, which steers it toward a more complex and truthful discussion of ideas around migration, transience and identity.

Analysis of central ideas: 

Inomata’s states that her work intends to forefront ideas of migration and identity – the notion that we’re able to seamlessly reshape ourselves as we cross national borders. [4] After consideration, I believe the work achieves this goal, but perhaps in the way it intended to.  As a viewer encounters the work, it’s difficult to not be struck with the lovable absurdity and novelty of the situation. I certainly smiled and giggled to myself as I saw a hermit crab unknowingly carrying a magnificent church on its shell. But, rather than detracting from the work, I think this quirkiness is well placed. By witnessing the elaborate displays of human tradition – such as represented by gothic church architecture – on the back of a non-human creature, we’re suddenly self-aware of the non-seriousness of such a declaration of identity. Are we not all hermit crabs, bearing the weight of our elaborate “shells”, our public identities, on our backs in name of cultural conformity? That’s not to say culture isn’t an authentic and crucial part of who we are – but rather – that some of our quirks as humans are actually quite frivolous, when stripped of their historic and cultural weight.

For the migrant, who is expected to conform to these quirky cultural norms in a new country, despite perhaps having not willingly internalized them, the constructed-ness of this process is particularly pronounced. Similarly, in movements involving a level of cultural co-opting – such as is in the wedding industry in Japan as referenced by Inomata, and in Western countries in numerous ways – culture is fetishised for commercial interest, heightening our awareness of the absurdity of aspects of tradition and ritual. The humble hermit crab with its 3D printed, beautifully elaborate and culturally loaded shell, is a mirror to our own human behavior – it’s revealed in all of it’s absurd, kind of adorable, glory. We can seamlessly reshape our identities as we move across countries because much of our identities are just ‘shelters’ formed out of our need to belong to a place – not inherent and immovable parts of us. We buy into the historic importance, the pomp and tradition (literally) but really, we have a fluidity and transience, just Inomata’s hermit crabs.

In her work, ‘Why not hand over a “shelter” to hermit crabs? – White Chapel’, Inomata explores mimicry, culture, identity and the human condition. Through use of new technologies such as 3D modelling and printing, Inomata challenges us by perfectly mimicking a characteristically natural, mystical, time-old phenomena – the sea shell –thus prompting us to question our own privilege and relevance as humans. Whether intentionally or not, by dislocating artefacts of cultural tradition such as architecture, clothes and language from humans onto non-human creatures, Inomata unveils our humanness, and our tendency to seek belonging through identity. The adorable absurdity and frivolity of the work, which I find difficult to avoid, serves to bring potency to the work, rather than detract from it. It’s clear that Inomata has been able to create a rich and complex work through years of focused investigation and exploration, and multiple iterations where she was able to meaningfully incorporation both existing and emerging technologies.

[1] K. Turner, 2010. “Missing the point: Handmade vs. digitally fabricated” (16 August), Ponoko, at http://blog.ponoko.com/2010/08/15/missing-the-point-handmade-vs-digitally-fabricated/, accessed 22 May 2017.

[2] http://www.aki-inomata.com/profile/

[3] http://www.aki-inomata.com/statement/

[4] http://www.aki-inomata.com/works/hermit_WhiteChapel/

We are all e-citizens: A practical guide to being ethical in digital spaces (research blog 1)

“A person is her or his information. “My” in “my information” is not the same as “my” in “my car” but rather the same as “my” as in “my body” or “my feelings”; it expresses a sense of constitutive belonging, not of external ownership, a sense in which my body, my feelings, and my information are part of me but are not my (legal) belongings.” – Luciano Floridi

For my cyberculture research this semester, I’ve (somewhat naively) chosen to delve into the deeply bewildering but nonetheless fascinating world of ethics in the age of information.

Far, far from being the simple and defined area I thought it to be, my research thus far has uncovered a complex web (read: absolute cluster-f**k) of academic and popular discourse encompassing numerous overlapping vortices of knowledge in the area.

To give you an idea, in my research, I came across the following terms/topic areas: e-democracy, cyber-democracy, cyber-ethics, digital rights, e-citizenship, intercultural computing ethics (ICE), digital media ethics, the ethics of information, consequentialist ethics and utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, feminist ethics… (I could go on.)

In the video below, Damon Horowitz discusses data and ethics to an audience in Silicon Valley: “What’s the formula that we can use in any situation to determine what we should do, whether we should use that guy’s data or not? What’s the formula? There’s not a formula. There’s not a simple answer.

After much confusion and deliberation, however, I did manage to make some kind of sense of it all (well, kind of!). Below are some distinctions/definitions/reasoning which I feel need to preface a discussion and summary of my research:

  1. If there is no distinction between our offline reality and online reality (Aren’t we all ‘onlife’?), why is a discussion of ethics in digital spaces/digital media relevant? This was the first and most obvious tension I came across in my research. Yes – the lines between our digital lives and non-digital lives are blurred if not indistinguishable. This means that the moral codes and ethics we practice offline also apply online. But digital spaces have presented us with some entirely new ethical challenges, too. In Digital Media EthicsCharles (2013) acknowledges three ethical challenges: 1.) The sorts of ethical conundrums already familiar to us, that are similarly found in traditional media. E.g, ‘Can we illegally copy a song for our own use?’ 2.) These familiar difficulties with new ‘wrinkles.’ E.g, the fact that new media has enabled an easy, cheap and accessible way of making perfect copies of someone’s song, and 3.) Challenges that are entirely unique to digital media. E.g, in the quote by Floridi at the beginning of this blog, it is pointed out that there is a discrepancy between ownership, privacy and legal rights in digital and non-digital spaces. The ethical challenge presented depends on whether these notions are situated online or offline.
  2.  Rest assured, this is not a discussion informed by moral panics. Predictably, I came across multiple articles and reports forewarning young people and adults of the dangers and risks involved in ‘being online’, and much advice on what’s acceptable and not acceptable. Some of these kinds of articles were not only outdated but steeped in moral panic, or as Charles (2013) tells, “technology good” and “technology bad.” These kinds of dichotomous analyses are something that I want to avoid.
  3. How will I define what’s ‘ethical’? I know just enough about philosophy to know just how incredibly vast and complex the discipline is, and just how much I really don’t know. So I’ll be upfront about this: whilst I’ll endeavour to be as informed as possible, my discussion of ethics will be situated within my own, basic, subjective understanding of it. Maybe this is best. To get a little meta, I don’t know how I feel about even trying to argue for the correctness of a singular theory of ethics (Wikipedia tells me this is actually a metaethics theory called ‘ethical pluralism’).

In light of all of this, the scope of my research will be to unpack some of the ethical challenges that we, as everyday people who use the internet, knowingly or unknowingly tangle with. I will focus primarily on the challenges which are familiar to analogue, but with new ‘wrinkles’, and those that are particular to digital spaces (as mentioned above.) The judgement of the ethical correctness of an action will be a thoughtful one, but one that is highly subjective and one that may not necessarily belong within the canon of philosophical understanding.

The eventual product and format of my research will be a series of short videos imparting practical information and advice for everyday people navigating this area. I just know it’s going to be difficult to reduce some of these issues into a bite-sized form with tangible takeaways (rather than just meandering commentary, like this blog), so I’ll try to include many links in YouTube descriptions for further research.

Topic areas I’ve whittled my research down to are the following:

  1. Navigating a new privacy: Ownership, data and surveillance
  2. The ethics of free stuff: Intellectual property
  3. Minimise harm: Gender, sexuality and porn
  4. E-citizenship: Sillos, algorithms and democracy

In my next blog, I’ll be summarising my research in these areas, and detailing more on my digital artefact. Stay tuned!

Practice Development Project: Week 6

Project Pitch:

In my project, I want to explore the sensory perception and consciousness, the ‘old brain’, and our human experience of both (how they relate/conflict).

My research into the Light and Space movement has steered me toward looking at sensory perception and light. Artists like James Turrell and Robert Irwin sought to subvert our experience of light in order to bring an awareness to our own sensory perception – and the physiology of this. This forefronts consciousness, i.e, to see ourselves see.

In my research, I also came across an artist called Anne Lindberg. In her bio on her website, she talked about wanting her works to appeal to the ‘Old Brain’ –  to activate primal understandings (security, fear, hunger, gravity, sexuality, anxiety, self-protection.)

In my project, I want to try to tangle with both concepts mentioned above, as I think their relationship is interesting. I want to activate the new brain understandings through fore fronting consciousness, as well as the Old Brain through texture, form, rhythm and sound, and highlight the dialogue between both for the viewer.

The idea for my project is an installation work featuring a number of spherical frosted glass objects (similar to what I used in my material experimentation) hanging from the ceiling at varying heights. Inside the spheres are battery operated lights. I want the spheres to have a very soft glow and organic textures (I will explore using material covers to achieve this.)

To activate primal understandings, I want to use primarily sound and rhythm. I’m thinking sounds like the sound of breathing, crying, eating, screaming – sounds related to the Old Brain. I came across interesting information about the old brain/new brain which will inform how I use rhythm:

 

  • Conscious sensation and reaction – by the cerebrum or new brain – can take about 2 seconds.
  • Unconscious sensation and reaction – by the cerebellum or old brain – is around 10 times faster.

I’m figuring out how exactly I can use sound and rhythm in my work. This will need further thought and iteration.

Inspired by our class discussion in week 6, below is a diagram of how the conceptual, aesthetic and functional aspects of my work work separately and together for my project:

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I also am taking into account some of the feedback/ideas from my classmates, although I think they may be overestimating my technical abilities (I’m unfortunately unable make mini tsunamis caused by voice).

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Practice Development Project: Week 5

Research Your Project

Although the progression of my Research Development Project hasn’t exactly been lineal (one minute I’m talking about non-profit marketing, the next, light/space in art) – I have been learning and progressing nonetheless. Through my contextual research into the Light and Space movement, I’ve been introduced to a whole new way of understanding light, how it can relate to consciousness/awareness, and it’s relationship with space and colour. Though my material experimentation, I learned about the relationships between various textures, materials and light, and played around with transforming light into a physical object.

From all of this, I’ve been inspired to ask questions and explore new areas. Obviously I’m in the very initial stages of project formation, without knowing who my group will be and what we’ll be working on. Here’s a little ideas brain dump of what I’m interested in developing thus far:

Ideas to explore:

  • Temporality/the ephemeral
  • Sensory perception
  • ‘Old Brain’ and texture, colour, light, shape
  • Consciousness
  • Ubiquity/salience
  • Physiological/visceral experience
  • Physicality/abstract

Materials:

  • Soft fabrics and plastics: chiffon, coloured plastic bags, plastic wrap
  • Frosted glass (may be difficult to obtain)
  • Skylights/Windows
  • Soft, flowing textures
  • Hard, structural textures
  • Paper (tracing, tissue)
  • Artificial and natural lights

Media technologies:

  • Video
  • Film
  • Projection
  • Photography
  • Sound

What historical development informed this field?

Impressionism: placed an emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its temporal nature, and the inclusion of movement as a crucial element of human perception and experience. This focus on light and sensory perception broke new ground and paved the way for following movements.

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Colour field: is characterized primarily by large fields of flat, solid colour spread across or stained into the canvas creating areas of unbroken surface and a flat picture plane. In color field painting “color is freed from objective context and becomes the subject in itself.” Whilst not working directly with light, the movement explored visceral experience for the viewer (rather than art as a signifier). This is later pushed further by the Light and Space movement.

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Light and Space Movement: was concerned with “making the spectator’s experience of light and other sensory phenomena under specific conditions the focus of their work.” They emphasised sensory perception by subverting our ordinary experience of light.

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What is happening right now that is interesting?

James Turrell is still creating works that explore light and space. He has created many Skyspaces that are still being commissioned today, such as the one below, which was created in 2013.

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Turrell is also exploring sensory deprivation through his works. This can be seen in the exhibition ‘Ganzfeld.’ Ganzfeld is a German word to describe the phenomenon of the total loss of depth perception as in the experience of a white-out.

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I’m interested in the various ways we can forefront sensory perception for viewers as a I believe this is potent. I’d love to perhaps incorporate video and projection into this. I’m also really intrigued by how, as artists, we can speak to our ‘old brain.’ I find this intersection between art and psychology meaningful, and would love to push it further.