Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Studio Project 03

Below is the link to the video documentation of my project. I used borrowed furniture (from around campus and from my house) to create a transformed environment inside the Goodpaster elevator. The intent was for a normally isolating space to become social, to encourage personal interaction where we would normally refrain, which given the slow foot traffic meant that I inhabited the space as a sort of performer so that the viewer could use me as a "canvas" for their own transformed personal experience. In other words, I let the viewer determine their own experience (duration of their ride, response to the social cues of the space, etc.) and I responded as myself (another person, but not "the artist") so that our dynamic would remain person/person and not become artist/viewer. This project is a response to the reading on Relational Aesthetics, particularly the idea of human interaction as art.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Visual Project 03: Progress

My current idea is to respond to the ideas of relational aesthetics by re-creating The Asch Experiment, which was a study in Psychology which tested conformity by having unsolicited participants happen upon an elevator full of people facing an untraditional direction (backwards, sideways, etc.), during which most people conformed to the odd behavior without knowing why. I would like to tweak this experiment in order to focus its attention to the human interactions taking place.

Some ideas about how to tweak it:
- Set up the elevator to be a more social environment from another context (e.g., "coffee shop" - a couple small chairs facing each other, maybe even an end table with a plant, etc.)
- "Social circle" - in which the people in the elevator stand in an inward-facing circle for the ride, rather than all facing a single direction. (In this situation, without the furniture to suggest the intended arrangement, most of the people in any one elevator would have to be plants to set the new norm, meaning that only the few, uninformed participants would be receiving the full, transformed experience.

In either case, The Asch Experiment shows that people will take part in the abnormal behavior without formal instruction. I am interested in what the experience of an elevator ride is like when it becomes a social experience rather than traditionally-imposed solitude.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Visual Project 02: "SMCM Ambient Noise"

My project reacts to the reading from John Cage, specifically his ideas about all sound being equal, and relates thematically most closely to the artwork of Christian Marclay, though I ultimately decided to approach Marclay's same ideas about sound from the opposite direction. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Visual Project 02: Progress

Ideas for sound-based response to John Cage: “Sounds of St. Mary’s”

-          Collect audio from the everyday around campus (i.e., naturally occurring, though overlooked sounds from around campus)
-          Elevating the everyday "noise"
-          Particularly effective because St. Mary’s tends to be thought of as a very “quiet” campus
-          Current plan is to cut into a “song,” loop sounds to create a beat; nothing so mixed that it masks the origins of the sounds, but if I could create a melody that might be interesting  
-          Possible sources for sound:
o   Bell
o   Water (waves lapping on shore and/or fountains
o   Wind
o   Footsteps (on path or stairs)
o   Doors slamming à drum?
o   Sail slapping
o   Door swipe (*beep*)
o   Projector’s powering on/off
o   Birds
o   Indistinct voices (like passing conversations under way)
o   Etc.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Response to Carr's "A Great Wall":

Car made several key points to connect Marina Abramovic and Ulay’s acts, particularly “The Lovers,” to an artistic context. He conveys one memorably encompassing belief of Abramovic’s which states that “Art should be done from that extraordinary state of mind one could only get to physically, through exhaustion or pain or repetition.” This is reminiscent to me of artists who actively pursue and engage in the absurd in order to tap into something new and different. Making that absurdity physical would only heighten the experience, that “circumstance where all my defense is broken and my habits don’t exist.” But Carr is careful to contrast the Abramovic and Ulay’s walk with others who followed them in pursuit of a Guinness World Record title. This was never just a stunt or a physical feat to be conquered and made into a trophy. The value was in finding something transcendent in the experience, in having shared it (at least symbolically) with each other. Carr quoted Ulay in saying “Walking is the easy part.” This is related to the second aesthetic quality about this piece, which is the symbolic aspect woven throughout. The artists had a conceptual intent in constructing and arranging the logistics, such as wanting Abramovic to walk the “male half” while Ulay would start on the “female half” for symbolic harmony and balance (as well as to symbolize the symbiotic nature of the artists’ relationship), but other prepared arrangements caused problems, changing the piece along the way. Ulay found difficulty adjusting to bureaucratic and political roadblocks which forced detours or adjustments. He said that he felt as though the piece had been changed; the ideas could not manifest exactly the way he had intended. Abramovic, on the other hand, did not resist whatever changes presented themselves; she opened herself entirely to whatever became of the experience. Carr observed that the entire nature of the piece had already changed for her when she and Ulay had broken up. She had to find new motivation before she could begin. In that sense, there seemed to be something expressive, rather than merely receptive or reactive, about the artists’ roles. The third aesthetic quality about the project is the original idea behind its conception, which they described as mimicking two people, connected somehow, moving towards one another across great distance and time until an eventual meeting. This idea, like that of many conceptual and expressive artists, calls attention to something deeply rooted in the human experience by removing it from the everyday and elevating it. By changing the context, attempting to isolate and highlight whatever came out of the experience, these artists’ created something deeply meaningful in terms totally separate from the time spent or the distance traveled. One might say that they captured something inherently human, but also uniquely and personally them in this piece, and that in doing so they achieved, albeit through unconventional means, in capturing artistic ideals as well.