mac online apple blackjack http://www.euro-online.org

Enterprise and Research Methods 07: Artist Inspiration (Donnarumma, Gross, and Von Bismarck)

donnarumma_hypochrysos-stage

The proposed project will be influenced by three major works.

1.’Hypo Chrysos: Action Art for Vexed Body and Biophysical Media’. 2012. Marco Donnarumma describes this work:

“During this twenty minutes action I pull two concrete blocks in a circle. My motion is oppressively constant. I have to force myself into accepting the pain until the action is ended. The increasing strain of my corporeal tissues produces continuous bioacoustic signals. The sound of the blood flow, muscle contraction bursts, and bone crackling are amplified, accumulated, distorted, and played back through 4 loudspeakers and 4 subwoofers using the biophysical instrument Xth Sense (Pd-based), developed by the author…

When the performer’s muscle vibration becomes tangible sound breaching into the outer world, it invades the audience members’ bodies through their ears, skin, and muscle sensory receptors. The sound makes their muscles resonate, establishing a nexus between player and audience. The listeners’ bodies, the player’s body, and the performance space resonate synchronously”

The way in which the proposed project will take inspiration from Donnarumma’s work will be as follows:

- It will take data through the medium of the skin of the body (the participant will be holding a biometric pulse sensor)
- It will produce a projected visual response to this data that will be surrounding the participant
- It will capture the sounds of the room, and the sounds/gestures of the participant within the room, via Pduino/PureData, and feed it back to them

It will differ in the following ways:

- The proposed project will not be a performance for an audience to watch; instead, it will be an experience in which an audience member will be within as a participant
- Its focus, unlike Donnarumma’s work, will not be on pain, but it will be on the body state as it is
- The theoretical framework will be about how the body can affect conscious experience, and how artwork can transform normally transparent perceptual awareness into something visible and listenable in the exhibition space

2. ‘Fractured View: Critical Design for Channeling Stress into Creativity’. 2013. Shad Gross describes his research:

“As a whole, I am interested in research-through-design, and how the process of designing artifacts and probes can not only be used to generate new information through testing, but can also be a source of understanding in and of itself. As such, what is presented here is a collection of not only research concepts, but also reflections on design concepts and how they created understanding.”

Particularly, the idea of research though testing in relation to understanding concepts is inspirational regarding methods. The artefacts that Gross produces are tested by audiences, who, for example, squeeze the artefacts and the amount of pressure exerted can be said to measure stress levels. This data, which is a form of testing, generates images (below), transforming the anxiety into art.

Proposed project similarities:

- Data from the audience member will be transferred onto a visual display, via the biometric pulse sensor
- The audience member will have an object to hold
- The audience member will be able to see the visual effect that their own data produces

Project differences:

- The image of the audience member will only display effects in correspondence with the pulse; after the audience member stops holding the pulse sensor, the image will return to the way it was
- The object will not be cracked or squeezable in aesthetic; it will be smooth and minimal
- There will be audio that is influenced by the audience member’s movement

3. ‘Top Shot Helmet’. 2007. Julius Von Bismarck created this design allowing the participant to see their walking from a birds eye view.

Project similarities:

- The audience member will be able to see from a point of view that is allowed through the means of technology
- The audience member will experience an acute sense of perceptual distortion

Project differences:

- The audience member will be able to see themselves in the projection
- They will be able to see where they’re going (their vision will not be limited)
- There will be two projections or views (front and back)

Practical Ideas:

Below is an example of a Pure Data patch that takes live sounds from the room and feeds it back with effects:

Here is an example of a Pduino patch that changes sound depending on proximity:

The biometric pulse sensor will allow the following functions:

“Simply clip the Pulse Sensor to your earlobe or finger tip and plug it into your 3 or 5 Volt Arduino and you’re ready to read heart rate! The 24″ cable on the Pulse Sensor is terminated with standard male headers so there’s no soldering required. Of course Arduino example code is available as well as a Processing sketch for visualizing heart rate data.”

“It essentially combines a simple optical heart rate sensor with amplification and noise cancellation circuitry making it fast and easy to get reliable pulse readings. Also, it sips power with just 4mA current draw at 5V so it’s great for mobile applications.”

Sources:
Anon. Marco Donnarumma. DigitalArti: Digital Art and Innovation. [Online]. Available from: http://www.digitalarti.com/blog/marco_donnarumma/the_body_vexed_hypo_chrysos_action_art_for_biophysical_media_at_cynetart_fest [Accessed 8 May 2014]

Donnarumma, M. Hypo Chrysos: Action Art for Vexed Body and Biophysical Media. [Vimeo]. Available from: http://marcodonnarumma.com/works/hypo-chrysos/ [Accessed 8 May 2014]

Donnarumma, M. Hypo Chrysos: Action Art for Vexed Body and Biophysical Media. [Online]. Available from: http://marcodonnarumma.com/works/hypo-chrysos/ [Accessed 8 May 2014]

Gross, S. 2013. Fractured View: Critical Design for Channeling Stress into Creativity. [Online]. Available from: http://www.shadgross.com/?cat=1 [Accessed 5 May 2014]

Von Bismarck, J. Top Shot Helmet. [Online]. Available from: http://juliusvonbismarck.com/bank/index.php?/projects/topshot-helmet/ [Accessed 5 May 2014]

Volker racho. 2011. Top Shot Helmet. [Vimeo]. Available from: http://vimeo.com/20736117#at=0 [Accessed 5 May 2014]

Media Art 04: Language in Art, Nauman (1974) and Emin (1995)

Hauser-Wirth-London-Savile-Row-Bruce-Nauman-Mindfuck-Good-Boy-Bad-Boy-1986-87-Installation-View

“Nauman’s drawings and titles often include wordplay like the anagram DEATH HATED, HATED DEATH, 1974. He thus still shows a clear interest… in language itself.” (Lerm Hayes and Nauman 2003)


(Modern Matter 2013)

“I am an evil man, reads some of the text in Bruce Nauman’s Good Boy, Bad Boy. I am an evil woman/we are alive. I was a bad boy, I was a bad girl, You were a bad boy. It’s easy to feel, when staring at this cycle, that you’re going insane, but the easiest option is this: that Nauman, the artist-psychologist, is making the distinction between simple badness, and real, transcendent evil, where one of these qualities makes the subject a boy; the other, a man. The evil man is as an untouchable God, and the bad boy is impotent – a nervous, pissing wreck. The twitchy madness of mental uncertainty is all here: the feeling of flared-nostril, pounding-heart hyper-anxiety, beyond all awareness of hunger or sleep – insane invincibility and self-flagellation in equal measure.” (Snow 2013)


(Contemporary International Artists and Art Works 2011)

“Looking at issues of interdisciplinary collaboration made it apparent that language was a fundamental issue. It has been well argued that language has material effects. Language embodies our view of the world – how we understand others and ourselves, as well as social, natural, and cultural forces.” (Pearce et. al. 2003)

Bibliography

Beam, M. Diamond, S. and Pearce, C. (2003) BRIDGES I: Interdisciplinary Collaboration as Practice. Leonardo. 36 (2) 123 – 128.

Lerm Hayes, C and Nauman, B. (2003) Beckett. Nauman: The Necessity of Working in an Interdisciplinary Way. Circa. 104 (Summer) 47 – 50.

NAYAK, A. (2011) Marni Kotak the woman who gave birth in an art gallery!!a look at some of our favorite controversial artworks of the last century [online] Contemporary International Artists and Art Works. Available from: http://ashokartgallery.blogspot.co.uk/2011/11/marni-kotak-woman-who-gave-birth-in-art.html [Accessed 1

Snow, P. (2013) Bruce Nauman/ mindfuck at Hauser & Wirth [online] London: Modern Matter. Available from: http://amodernmatter.com/2013/02/bruce-nauman-mindfuck-at-hauser-wirth/ [Accessed 1 January 2014]

Media Art 03: Violent Incident (Nauman 1986)

Violent Incident 1986 by Bruce Nauman born 1941

“Nauman has continued to work on the darker side of life. His videos show falling clowns, spinning heads screaming… and styled violence in a domestic setting.” (Lerm Hayes and Nauman 2003)


(Tate London 2002)

“In 1973 Nauman employed professional actors for the first time in his videotapes, previously having used his own body. He then stopped working with video for twelve years, returning to it in 1985 (see Good Boy, Bad Boy Tate T06853). He has said that the confrontational work he made around this time stemmed from his feelings of ‘anger and frustration … My work comes out of being frustrated about the human condition. And about how people refuse to understand other people. And about how people can be cruel to each other. It’s not that I think I can change that, but it’s just such a frustrating part of human history.’ (Quoted in Simon, p.148.) Nauman has stated:

Violent Incident begins with what is supposed to be a joke – but it’s a mean joke
… I started with a scenario, a sequence of events which was this: Two people come to a table that’s set for dinner with plates, cocktails, flowers. The man holds
the woman’s chair for her as she sits down. But as she sits down, he pulls the
chair out from under and she falls on the floor. He turns around to pick up the
chair, and as he bends over, she’s standing up, and she gooses him. He turns
around and yells at her – calls her names. She grabs the cocktail glass and throws
the drink in his face. He slaps her, she knees him in the groin and, as he’s
doubling over, he grabs a knife from the table. They struggle and both of them
end up on the floor.
(Quoted in Simon, p.148.)
In the installation, the short sequence described above is repeated in three other versions: the couple exchange roles; it is played by two men; it is played by two women. Each version has been edited with slow-motion, colour change, and the addition of footage filmed during the rehearsals in which the action was deconstructed by a man’s voice shouting out instructions. The four looped videotapes are played on twelve monitors stacked up in four columns of three. This results in a wall of staggered action, sound and motion which intrudes aggressively into the space around it: ‘The images are aggressive, the characters are physically aggressive, the language is abusive. The scripting, having the characters act out these roles and the repetition all build on that aggressive tension.’ (Nauman quoted in Simon, p.148.) The viewer is presented with a hypnotic repetition of pointlessly cruel and destructive violence which is both seductive and alienating.” (Manchester 2000)

Bibliography

Lerm Hayes, C and Nauman, B. (2003) Beckett. Nauman: The Necessity of Working in an Interdisciplinary Way. Circa. 104 (Summer) 47 – 50.

Manchester, E. (2000) ‘Violent Incident’: Bruce Nauman [online]. London: TATE. Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nauman-violent-incident-t06732/text-summary [Accessed 31 December 2013]

Creative Practice 11: Animal Mask Influence (the work of others)

animal_head


(Anon 2012)

“Most people ordinarily seem to think that sex and gender are coextensive: women are human females, men are human males. Many feminists have historically disagreed and have endorsed the sex/ gender distinction. Provisionally: ‘sex’ denotes human females and males depending on biological features (chromosomes, sex organs, hormones and other physical features); ‘gender’ denotes women and men depending on social factors (social role, position, behaviour or identity). The main feminist motivation for making this distinction was to counter biological determinism or the view that biology is destiny.” (Mikkola 2012)

“Animals and Women” is a collection of pioneering essays that explores the theoretical connections between feminism and animal defense. Offering a feminist perspective on the status of animals, this unique volume argues persuasively that both the social construction and oppressions of women are inextricably connected to the ways in which we comprehend and abuse other species. Furthermore, it demonstrates that such a focus does not distract from the struggle for women’s rights, but rather contributes to it.This wide-ranging multidisciplinary anthology presents original material from scholars in a variety of fields, as well as a rare, early article by Virginia Woolf. Exploring the leading edge of the species/gender boundary, it addresses such issues as the relationship between abortion rights and animal rights, the connection between woman-battering and animal abuse, and the speciesist basis for much sexist language. Also considered are the ways in which animals have been regarded by science, literature, and the environmentalist movement. A striking meditation on women and wolves is presented, as is an examination of sexual harassment and the taxonomy of hunters and hunting. Finally, this compelling collection suggests that the subordination and degradation of women is a prototype for other forms of abuse, and that to deny this connection is to participate in the continued mistreatment of animals and women.” (Adams and Donovan 1999)


(Gooch 2013)


(Gooch 2013)


(Diana 2009)


(Paulus 2013)


(Anon 2013)

Viewing the incorporation of animal imagery into performance, I have explored the idea of performativity as represented by ‘animal’ from the feminist standpoint that biological essentialism is limiting. Investigating the photography of others, I have photographed an original image representing the ‘animal’ as performative (below).

Another idea that could perhaps further be developed is displaying a live performance wearing an animal mask. This performance could be incorporated into the sensors somehow, certain actions provoking certain reactions with the built mask.

Bibliography

Adams, Carol. J. and Donovan, Josephine (1999) Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations USA: Duke University Press

Anon (2013) happytohear [DXPnet] 4 June. Available from: http://www.dxpnet.com/opinion/ascendants/Sun-Square-Ascendant-3242667.asp [Accessed 27 December 2013]

Anon (2012) pho.tog.ra.phy: THE ART OR PROCESS OF PRODUCING IMAGES OF OBJECTS ON PHOTOSENSITIVE SURFACES: Outdoor Photo Shoot [Wordpress] 23 October. Available from: http://www.thecommonthought.com/animal_head.jpg [Accessed 27 December 2013]

Diana (2009) Vintage Mint [Wordpress] 21 January. Available from: http://www.vintagemint.com/2009/01/ [Accessed 27 December 2013]

Gooch, S. (2013) Animal Head Mask Shoot [Flikr] 15 April. Available from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shaneendaynaphotography/8653113964/in/photostream/ [Accessed 27 December 2013]

Paulus, G. (2013) Hand felted steagull animal mask/head dress by gladyspaulus [Etsy] 13 November. Available from: http://www.etsy.com/listing/104510457/hand-felted-seagull-animal-mask-head [Accessed 27 December 2013]

Mikkola, Mari, “Feminist Perspectives on Sex and Gender”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

Contemporary Culture 04: Sculpture Idea 2: “EMDR Technologies” (Interdisciplinary fields and combining methods)

alucier_ST-5_2003-1-520x646

NOTE – After realising my first project for Jan 10, I hope to progress onto this idea in the second semester.

‘Interdisciplinary’ and EMDR (representing psychology through art/music, and digital/analog programming)

Interdisciplinary…

The dictionary defines ‘Interdisciplinary’ as “combining or involving two or more academic disciplines or fields of study.” More specifically, a recent study (Legrady and Steinheider 2004) has situated the term ‘interdisciplinary’ within collaborations in the field of “digital media art practice”:

“Interdisciplinary teamwork has become increas- ingly common in industrial and knowledge development, most recently in the field of digital media art practice, where the complexity of technology has caused a shift from individual to team-based production. The complexity of most projects demands diverse forms of expertise acquired over time through experience. To realize a project, it is therefore nec- essary that the needed knowledge be provided by many spe- cialists, whose efforts are integrated through a collaborative process. It is also hoped that bringing together expert knowl- edge from diverse domains may result in synergetic effects whereby the whole becomes something different from the sum of its parts.” (Legrady and Steinheider 2004, p. 315)

Referring to collaborative projects within the field of media art, this study illuminates the way in which one or more bodies of specialist knowledge can combine together to create that which is unique. Again, one can think back to Maeda’s (2012) discussion on creative leadership, where he argues that one should not think about the specifics of the type of information they are developing, but should focus on combining ‘what is good’. (See blog entry ‘Seminar Discussion 01′). Moreover, it can be recognised that fields of study which overlap or share terminology (‘performance’ is used in music, art, drama, for example) can be combined to create new ideas:

“The categories associated with knowledge-sharing included a shared understanding of objectives and problems, shared ter- minology, experience with interdisciplinarity and motivation to work in interdisciplinary teams.” (p. 315)

The term ‘interdisciplinary’ can perhaps be debated in context of Nicholas Collins’ ‘Pea Soup’ (2012) below. What I mean by this is that upon watching the video I was prompted to ask questions such as ‘Is this music, or art, or performance, or all three?’ and ‘Is the music created by the pianist, Collins himself using digital technology to mix the sounds, feedback created by the technological equipment, or do they all play an important part to the overall outcome?’.

The outcome is both atmospheric and experimental. As Collins realised his performance alongside a classical musician, his work involves using another member practicing in a genre different to his own in her every day practice. Although the project is not collaborative as such, it involves an artist who is primarily trained in a different discipline. Although it has been outlined above that ‘interdisciplinary’ can be achieved through team members of different disciplines, an interdisciplinary work does not necessarily have to be a collaboration. Furthermore, another study (Beckett 2003) has outlined the term ‘interdisciplinary’ as that which transgresses confinement:

“From the perspective outlined, interdisciplinary approaches are more central in their still often marginal position in criticism would lead one to believe; they are to be included in a genre’s history as something which is necessitated by the state of affairs within that genre. While the historic distinctions between the arts have enabled artists to continue to create, they do not present barriers which interpretors should not dare to cross.” (Lerm Hayes and Nauman 2003, p. 50)

Here, Beckett suggests that taking an interdisciplinary approach to a project allows for a combining of ideas from/into other disciplines but still remaining within the field of the discipline. With this in mind, I will attempt to represent a concept in psychology through sculpture (art) that incorporates methods from both digital technology and music.

EMDR psychotherapy

‘Eye Movement, Desensitisation, Reprocessing’ is a type of therapy used to combat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The therapy is usually used in order to access and reprocess a repressed memory in order to eliminate physical symptoms (such as dissociation) associated with PTSD with the goal to eliminate trauma that was created at the time of a particular past event. The EMDR Institute Incorporated outlines the process of EMDR psychotherapy:

“Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a psychotherapy treatment that was originally designed to alleviate the distress associated with traumatic memories (Shapiro, 1989a, 1989b). Shapiro’s (2001) Adaptive Information Processing model posits that EMDR facilitates the accessing and processing of traumatic memories to bring these to an adaptive resolution… During EMDR the client attends to emotionally disturbing material in brief sequential doses while simultaneously focusing on an external stimulus. Therapist directed lateral eye movements are the most commonly used external stimulus but a variety of other stimuli including hand-tapping and audio stimulation are often used (Shapiro, 1991). Shapiro (1995) hypothesizes that EMDR facilitates the accessing of the traumatic memory network, so that information processing is enhanced, with new associations forged between the traumatic memory and more adaptive memories or information.”

In other words, the idea is that once the subject has accessed the particular memory, they can then understand it from the perspective of their current state of mind as opposed to the way in which the subject’s mind understood the event at the time of the event. The process happens through a series of phases where the subject is asked to recall details of the event, using technology such as headphones and hand sensors in order to monitor eye movements and stimulate sensory engagement. Knowing this, it is my idea to create a sculpture that represents the role of technology in the EMDR process from a speculative point of view; I will aim to use an led display of words and a projection of sound perhaps through Arduino.

Obviously, this project will be focused on the representing, and its speculative design; it will not in any way attempt to influence or analyse theories in the field of psychology. Its goal will simply be to represent a speculative idea through art that incorporates basic technology.

Inspiration

My idea evolved gradually, after reading about a number of projects that combine music with a kind of performance, art, and technology that accesses the brain and/or eye movements of the subject/performer in order to produce an outcome. The below projects are interactive; my project will not be interactive, but it will represent an interaction or transformative act.


(Nathaniel 2013)

Alvin Lucier – ‘Music for Solo Performer’ (1965)

Lucier’s ‘Music for Solo Performer’ amplifies Lucier’s (the subject/performer/creator) brainwaves through technological equipment and a component that detects the activity of the brain through vibration.

David Tudor – ‘Neural Synthesis’ (1993)

Like Lucier’s project, Tudor’s ‘Neural Synthesis’ accesses internal activity through a chip in order to produce an electronic piece of music. Unlike Lucier’s piece, Tudor’s project is realised through digital technology.

Nicholas Collins – ‘Tobabo Fonio’ (1986)

Collins’ ‘Tobabo Fonio’ self consciously represents sound through the trombone, subverting its function to play digital sound through a mediator (a homemade DSP system).

The Mind Cupola V2


(Shearer and Zics 2013)

“The Mind Cupola V2 by Brigitta Zics and John Shearer is an interactive artwork using affective computing, visualisation and technologies that instantly effect user’s perception in order to generate an immersive experience of ‘flow’.
In the Mind Cupola participants are invited to interact with the audiovisual display through their eye movements. In this encounter they have to control groups of visual elements with particular eye behaviours in order to generate the next stage of the visualisation. The Mind Cupola encourages the participant to recognize the laws of interacting with it, emphasising self-observation and self-control.Participants are invited to step under the cupola at the highlighted place.” (Shearer and Zics 2013)

“After detecting the person, the cupola will move to the appropriate position, to the height of the user. The participant is advised to be relaxed and only use movements of the eye and head to react to the system actions. The participant’s main guide is the visualisation, which directly reacts to the participant’s eye movement with particular flocking patterns and behaviour which is also influenced by the affective state of the participant. Through the interaction the person has to recognise the laws of the system in order to achieve full immersion. The display presents not only a visualisation of the participant’s eye-control but also the representation of the cognitive state of the user. The system evaluates its participants affective states and guides him/her towards the optimal state of immersive experience. As such the participant’s experience is a fluctuation of instinct and conscious control mechanisms that might turn into a self-reflective process of flow experience.” (Shearer and Zics 2013)

Idea – speculative cultures and design

Below is a quick sketch of my idea.

As addressed in a previous blog entry (‘Contemporary Culture 02′) my project will be ‘speculative’ in that it will speculate about ideas that which are outside of what we know in present times. By this I mean that it is not possible to undergo EMDR therapy with technology alone, but this representative sculpture will suggest that a traumatic memory is being undone.

In order to represent this I will – if possible – compose a short snippet of music (using my cello) and reverse it digitally. The idea is that the music will play (backwards) out of the headphones in order to symbolise the ‘undoing’ of the happening. I will attach an led display of words (created using Arduino) that represent the undoing of the memory; the led display will be positioned where the hand devices that stimulate memory through vibration would be.

Next, I will look at ways of physically constructing the actual sculptures.

Bibliography

Anon (2013) Dictionary [online]. Available from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/interdisciplinary

Anon (2011) EMDR Institute, Inc. [online]. Available from: http://www.emdr.com/general-information/what-is-emdr/what-is-emdr.html [Accessed 2 December 2013]

Conceição, Carlos (2010) Alvin Lucier – Music for Solo Performer [Youtube] 27 Nov. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=bIPU2ynqy2Y [Accessed 2 December 2013]

Legrady, George and Steinheider, Brigitte. (2004) Interdisciplinary Collaboration in Digital Media Arts: A Psychological Perspective on the Production Process. Leonardo [online]. 37 (4) 315-321 The MIT Press. Available from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1577611 [Accessed 2 December 2013]

Lerm Hayes, Christa-Maria and Nauman, Bruce.(2003) The Necessity of Working in an Interdisciplinary Way
Circa [Online] 104 (Summer) 47-50 Circa Art Magazine. Available from: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25563967 [Accessed 2 December 2013]

Sandler, Nathaniel (2013) Miami Rail [online]. Miami: Knight Foundation. Available from: http://miamirail.org/performing-arts/the-sound-of-subtropics/ [Accessed 2 December 2013]

Shearer, John and Zics, Brigitta (2013) Digital Media at Culture Lab [online]. Newcastle University. Available from: http://dm.ncl.ac.uk/blog/the-mind-cupola-v2/ [Accessed 2 December 2013]

‘Siliconluthier’ (2011) Pea Soup (Nicholas Collins) [Youtube] 9 Oct. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7f5Iha7JyQ#t=38 [Accessed 2 December 2013]

‘Siliconluthier’ (2009) Tobabo Fonio (Nicholas Collins) [Youtube] 9 Jul. Available from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89jbl0ZuaH4 [Accessed 2 December 2013]

Contemporary Culture 03: Sculpture Idea 1: “Femininity” (a combination of art, digital technology, and cultural studies)

Idea 1

William Lovitt has outlined what Heidegger describes as ‘Enframing’ (afore mentioned in ‘Seminar Discussion 01′) as “a challenging claim” that “assembles and orders… summons forth… forever restructuring anew”. (Lovitt 1977, p. 19). Similarly, Don Ihde argues the importance of media technologies in context of culture:

“This awareness is part of the communications technologies, particularly the image technologies… which daily bring us exotic cultures and makes clear the conflicts between cultures.” (Ihde 1993, p. 114).

Referring to “visual networking” such as television, cinema, etc. (Ihde 1993, p. 114) Ihde draws to our attention the role of modern technologies to connect us with different cultures and sustain our awareness of those cultures. Considering these arguments, it is possible to view media art as a platform for reshaping or ‘enframing’ current perceptions of identity in context of contemporary culture. More specifically, recent studies (Railton and Watson 2011) have described identity as intrinsic to culture:

“One of the most important tenets of postmodern and poststructural theories is the notion that the self is not an essential self rooted in genetic make-up or formed in early psychological development, but, rather, a discursively constructed self produced and maintained through the workings of a multiplicity of cultural institutions and practices.” ( Railton and Watson 2011, p. 20).

In other words, because the self is a ‘discursive’ self, identity is dependent on external facts, a “specific social, cultural, and historical situation” (Railton and Watson 2011, p. 20) rather than within ones self, subjectively or internally. With this in mind, I have decided to explore the idea of creating a sculpture that is self-conscious of the role of discourse/culture/ideology as a kind of mask constructed before ones true internal/subjective identity. Below is an illustration of the initial processes of my thoughts in terms of my creative practice project (click the image to enlarge it).

The above image demonstrates a cultural identity placed to the left of the central object and a subjective identity placed to the right of the central object. My idea is to create a sculpture in the form of a mask to represent a ‘masked’ identity or a contsructed/discursive identity, and the object to the left of the mask will represent the way in which society interprets ones masked identity in context of culture. The object to the right of the mask will symbolise ones ‘Real’ or ‘true’ self, not obscured by perceptions that are derived from cultural beliefs of ideologies. At the moment, the idea is that both left and right objects will be attached to the central mask and will be rotated by a kind of motor that will create the illusion (symbolically) of the mask transforming the cultural perceptions to the ‘Real’.

According to Railton and Watson (2011), popular media has the ability to shape the way in which society can perceive women and female identity:

“Recurring images of women in popular media have some influence on how people think of women in real life… these images of women are either simply either positive or negative, good or bad, progressive or reactionary… it is possible to know which is which and, by implication to adjudicate on the respective politics of the image by measuring it against external reality, that is to say, the way real women are, or could/should be, in the real world.” (Railton and Watson 2011, p. 18 – 19)

Considering this argument, I have made the decision to specifically investigate representations of femininity that could embody my sculpture. As such, I have will create my sculpture on the premise that it will continue to represent femininity through images previously outlined in my first contemporary culture blog entry (‘contemporary culture 01′) such as the venetian mask. In terms of attaching the left and right components of the sculpture I will explore the ways in which I can incorporate words/language and their connotations with specific ‘normative’ ideologies. Ihde (1993) has described the role of language, like certain technologies, as transformational:

“Time and space technologies are deep and broad technologies, technologies which transformed entire cultural perspectives upon the world. But equally transformative in this deep sense, was writing which was an early language technology. Like tme and space technologies, writing, too, had a long and evolving history.” (Ihde 1993, p. 58).

Here, Ihde argues language’s vast influence on cultural perspectives. It is with this view that I will incorporate language into my design in order to, in the words of Heidegger, ‘Enframe’ cultural perspectives.

With the view that language can be displayed as art, Bolter and Gromala (2005) have illustrated ways in which writing can be displayed from an aesthetic point of view, stating that “digital technology can help to reawaken our interest in the visual appearance of words.” (Bolter and Gromala 2005, p. 166). This study explores the project named “Excretia”, which allows language and writing to morph in sync with the human body, as demonstrated below.

(Bolter and Gromala 2005, p. 167)

(Bolter and Gromala 2005, p. 167)

(Bolter and Gromala 2005, p. 168)

In context of postmodern times, Bolter and Gromala describe the effects of “Excretia” on the author:

“Like earlier forms of writing, Excretia is a reflective interface that reveals the author to himself – again, not a perfect or single reflection, but a myriad of refracting planes in the transpositions and changing angles of the letter forms. Excretia reflects a different part of the author’s self.” (Bolter and Gromala 2005, p. 168).

As opposed to simply ‘reflecting’ the author, Excretia ‘refracts’ its image back to the author, a self-conscious display of media art as mirrors of multiplicity. With this in mind, I will investigate incorporating a display of words in context of female identity into my project.

A recent text (Storey 2009) has explained the work of Judith Butler, describing cultures place in the construction of gender categories:

“According to Butler’s argument, gender is not the expression of biological sex, it is performatively constructed in culture… In other words, gender identities consist of the accumulation of what is outside (i.e. in culture) in the belief that they are an expression of what is inside(i.e. in nature).” (Storey 2009, p. 161).

Butler’s above theorisation of gender identity is exactly that which I wish to inform my project, the left component of my sculpture representing culture, and the right hand component of my sculpture representing nature. However, Butler’s work is focused on the female body rather than semiotics, as outlined in an interview with Liz Kotz (Artforum):

“This is related to the idea that discourse creates subject positions for your self to occupy—linguistic structures construct the self. The structure or discourse of gender for Butler, however, is bodily and nonverbal.” (Kotz 2013)

In order to investigate Butler’s concept, however, I will explore ways in which the divide between subjectivity and objectivity can be applied in context of feminist theory. Julia Kristeva has studied semiotics in context of feminism in her well known work Semeiotikè (1969). Barbera Godard describes the research of Kristeva:

“Kristeva gives considerable attention to how the feminine works invisibly through culture. She theorizes the “semiotic” as the “pre-symbolic” site of the maternal which persists as trace within the symbolic in an alternate form of meaning-making she terms “signifiance” (1984). Subsequently, she theorized a number of subject positions characterized by their incomplete separation of subject from object, with dispositions giving more place to the “semiotic,”… Borderline states, they constitute sites of abnormality or “horror.” As “negativity,” they may function as sites of transferential processes for the authors or readers of the texts… Kristeva nonetheless positions women as the ineffable vanishing point and invisible prop supporting a masculinized norm of meaning and subjectivity.” (Godard)

Here, Godard illustrates Kristeva’s argument that patriarchal order dictates language and its connotations. In order to represent this through words/language I have experimented with that which can be associated with cultural discourse (left) and subjective identity (right), displayed below (click image to enlarge it).

These words at present could be considered somewhat arbitrary; I have for the moment selected limited phrases to represent my own thought process. When making this project happen I will research specific terms that can be backed by credited texts.

In her famous text The Second Sex (1949), Simone de Beauvoir outlines a distinction between subjectivity and objectivity:

“The tremendous advance accomplished by psychoanalysis over psychophysiology lies in the view that no factor becomes involved in the psychic life without having taken on human significance; it is not the body-object described by biologists that actually exists, but the body as lived by the subject. Woman is a female to the extent that she feels herself as such.” (Beauvoir 1949).

It is this notion of true identity, that the woman “feels herself as such” (Beauvoir 1949) that I aim for the mask to transform (in a sense) in terms of speculative culture (i.e. perhaps one day the simple act of wearing a mask could transform the mask of ideologically dictated identity).

It is important to acknowledge that Butler writes on Beauvoir’s work. Moreover, it is important to acknowledge Butler’s argument that because of culture it is much more complex than simply a single divide between what is understood as ‘male’ or ‘female’, as Storey explains:

“Butler argues that gender works in much the same way as performative language. As she explains… one of the first performative speech acts we all encounter is the pronouncement ‘It’s a girl’ or ‘It’s a boy’. Each pronouncement comes with rules and regulations, which we are expected to follow and obey… Various discourses… will all combine to ensure our conformity to ‘performativity as cultural ritual, as the reiteration of cultural norms’.” (Storey 2009, p.161 – 162).

Here, Storey illustrates Butler’s argument that language constructs a gender divide from the moment we are born. Furthermore, Butler illustrates gender as culturally constructed in terms of language which she deems “phallogocentric”:

“If genders are in some sense chosen, then what do we make of gender as a received cultural construction? It is usual these days to conceive of gender as passively determined, constructed by a personified system of patriarchy or phallogocentric language which precedes and determines the subject itself.” (Butler 1986)

In other words, Butler argues that patriarchal order not only shapes discourse and its connotations but it also determines the way in which the subject understands their own identity. With all of this in mind, I have produced another digital representation of my initial idea in order to represent the divide between psychology and culture in order to suggest that the mask should – symbolically – correct this misrepresentation of female identity in society. (below; click image to enlarge it.)

To put it another way, my intention is for the mask to represent a reversal of normatively; that is, wearing a mask would not force the subject to act a performative identity, but to unapt the performative identity and be able to simply BE their real self without connotation. The images on the right represent Beauvoir’s idea of biology or nature, and the images on the left represent Butler’s theory about language and association. In the physical sculpture my idea is to screen language through an LED display using Arduino.

Bibliography

Beauvoir, Simone de. (1949) ‘The Second Sex.’ [Marxists.Org] Available from: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/2nd-sex/ch02.htm [Accessed on 20 November 2013]

Bolter, David and Gromala, Diane. (2005) Windows and Mirrors: Interaction Design, Digital Art, and the Myth of Transparency. London: The MIT Press.

Butler, Judith. (1986) ‘Sex and Gender in Simone de Beauvoir’s Second Sex.’ Yale French Studies. 72:35 – 49. [The European Graduate School] Available from: http://www.egs.edu/faculty/judith-butler/articles/sex-and-gender-in-simone-de-beauvoirs/ [Accessed 20 November 2013]

Ihde, Don. (1993) Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction. New York: Paragon House.

Kotz, Liz. (Accessed 2013) Artforum: Judith Butler and Performativity for Beginners. Interview, unpublished.

Lovitt, William (1977) Martin Heigedder: The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. London: Harper Perennial.

Railton, Diane and Watson, Paul (2011) Music Video and the Politics of Representation. UK: Edinburgh University Press.

Storey, John (2009) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction. Fifth Edition. London: Pearson and Longman.

Contemporary Culture 02: Speculative Culture: Philosophy of Technology and Project Ideas: Sound, Symbolism, and Language

POT_6

With ‘speculative culture’ in mind, one can refer to John Maeda’s (2012) talk on creative leadership, where he states that leaders “connect improbable connections and hope that something will happen.” Speculative culture considers ideas outside of our current epistemological state, exploring a freeing way of thinking and creating that can be described as ‘fictional design.’ In this sense, design products in speculative culture consider ideas outside of what we know.

The term ‘speculation’ can be understood in the following ways:

a) “The contemplation or consideration of some subject: to engage in speculation on humanity’s ultimate destiny;”

b) “Conjectural consideration of a matter; conjecture or surmise: a report based on speculation rather than facts.”

So, then, it can be said that in order to design a product that is considered as ‘speculative’ one must not only consider the condition of humanity but should also evaluate solutions to problems within this condition, using that which is outside of what we know. Given this, it is possible to speculate about possible futures or alternative presents.

Speculative design and sound sculpture

Andy Weir’s Deep Time Contagion (2012) can be considered in terms of the (1993) text of Don Ihde. Ihde evaluates technology in terms of its positive and negative effects and its relationship with humanity:

“If we stick to our concept of technology as always related to humans, then any human + technology will depend upon more than mere use, but also the latent powers of the particular technology involved as related to the complex of possibilities open to the human involved… it can be seen that humans + l o-technologies can… effect large environmental territories. Deforestation, irreversable erosion, regional climatic changes, have historically so happened. Neither of these results yields a view of technology as… simply a tool of human purpose… Nor do these differences relate to only obviously negative results. One of the most obvious positive results arising out of modern technologies relates to much of what we take for granted with respect to a standard of health which is relatively disease free.” (Ihde 1993, p. 53)

Here, Ihde considers the damaging effects of technology on the environment but also the vast benefits to heath in terms of the mortality of the human condition. Perhaps it can be suggested that, in an ideal world, humans could utilise technology to counter its damaging effects at the same time as allowing for greater possibilities. With Weir’s project in mind, one can consider the future maintenence of the world that both outlives our current human timespan and continues to act and represent. Below is a brief summary of Deep Time Contagion (2012):

“The deep geological repository is designed to store nuclear waste securely deep underground, sketching an ongoing and incomplete struggle to demarcate humans from contagious materials that would eventually destroy them. At the same time, defined as providing containment ‘without future maintenance’, its thinking and construction is fundamentally premised upon imagining conditions not dependent on the human… The site and its practice, then, necessarily allude to a ‘deep time’ span, exterior to and indifferent to that of the human. This work performs the sonic fiction of capture and viral transmission of the affect of deep time through blocks of recorded sound – A kind of pyroclastic soaked chrono-dread chewing at the edges of the skin like a Burroughs tape experiment melted into rock.” (Weir, 2012).

Weir’s project takes into account the mortality of humans and the danger posed to humans by certain materials. Through a collection of recorded ‘blocks of sound,’ Weir represents that which is exterior to the human, that which outlives the timespan of the human.

Likewise, the environment can be considered in Will Schrimshaw’s project Ur-Writings, shown below.

“Ur-writings: A series of works tracing the auto-affective inscriptions of the earth upon itself. Ur-writings respond to Rilke’s ‘demand to put under the needle and try out a “variety of lines, occurring anywhere”‘, a personal desire to drag a needle across the surface of the earth, and a suspicion that to do so entails indexing an archival substrate immanent to one’s own mind.1 This is a process of tracing ‘meaningless’ and illegible inscriptions that are nonetheless informative, of following distorted lines and figures that cross both the history of phonography and geophilosophical speculation. Each iteration of the process entails tracing the contours of a particular geological rupture or protrusion, the abstraction of its structure, and its re-inscription into wood and vinyl.” (Schrimshaw 2013).

Speculative design and words

Language is being explored in various contemporary contexts. Recently, an exhibition titled Word. Sound. Power. was displayed at the Tate Modern. Below is a description of just one aspect of the project.

Word. Sound. Power. will also feature performances by Indian artist Mithu Sen. In the afternoons of 12, 13 and 14 July she will make public readings of a new work entitled I am a Poet 2013, which she describes as being ‘not bound by rules of grammar, diction, vocabulary and syntax’. By speaking this ‘asemic’ text – a kind of abstract, non-sense writing – Sen highlights how access to power is intrinsically linked to the use of language.” (2013)

Strictly, this is not related to speculative culture however I feel that it can be considered in terms of epistemology, that is, how we come to know. Knowledge, as we understand it, is shaped by culture; writing, in context of culture makes sense. Without culture, semiotics, connotations etc. language does not have meaning and therefore cannot be understood. As outlined by Storey (2009) Barthes, Lacan, and Saussure all contribute to the study of semiotics (how language is understood through connotations and therefore culture).

Storey elaborates on Lacanian psychoanalysis:

“The symbolic is an intersubjective network of meanings, which exists as a structure we must enter… It is, therefore, what we experience as reality: reality being the symbolic organisation of the Real. Once in the symbolic our subjectivity is both enabled (we can do things and make meaning) and constrained (there are limits to what we can do and how we make meaning). The symbolic confirms who we are.” (Storey 2009, p. 103).

The symbolic, then, can be considered as language: language, a complex system of codes we interpret, understand, and express, are both defined and limited by rules within culture. In what is perhaps in more detail, Storey describes Saussure’s vision:

“Saussure divides language into two component parts. When I write the word ‘dog’ it produces the inscription ‘dog,’ but also the mental image of a dog: a four legged canine creature. He calls the first the ‘signifier’ and the second the ‘signified.’ Together… they make up the ‘sign.’ He then goes on to argue that the relationship between the signifier and signified is completely arbitrary. The word ‘dog,’ for example, has no dog-like qualities; there is no reason why the signifier ‘dog’ should produce the signified ‘dog’: four-legged canine creature (other languages have different signifiers to produce the same signified). The relationship between the two is simply the result of convention – of cultural agreement.” (Storey 2009, p. 111).

With Saussure’s view in mind, one can acknowledge the role of art to present words as arbitrary rather than signifiers in context of culture. Another example of words de-valued of signified meaning can be interpreted in Rokeby’s Murmurscape (2010) below.

Rokeby describes his work:

“For my 2007 work Machine for Taking Time (boul. St-Laurent), I recorded thousands of images of the city of Montreal from identical points of view every day for a year. In Murmurscape (Montreal), letter-shaped fragments excised from this archive of images are melded into a burbling collage… The cityscape fights to the surface.” (Rokeby 2010).

What could once be understood as conversation (words with meaning) has been reshuffled, rearranged, and layered to change its content entirely; none of these letters can be understood as words or phrases, as ‘signified.’

Incorporating these explorations into my own idea

In terms of my own project, I will attempt to incorporate some of these ideas about culture, meaning, and identity into a representational sculpture. With ‘fictional design’ in mind, I will consider, for one possibility, the idea of wearing a mask that transforms a signified identity into that of what Lacan describes as ‘Real.’ More specifically, I will investigate identity in context of femininity. Before outlining idea one I will first consider that which Ihde has described as feminism in relation to science and technology:

“Some recent feminists… often come closest to attacking precisely the cultural context of Western science itself… In short, the rise of early modern science was itself a movement into the… masculinist context of an aggression upon nature betrayed into the metaphors of science ‘twisting the tail of nature’… This suggested form of critique arising out of feminism, is a radical re-conceptualisation of the history of science/philosophy. Another re-conceptualisation was suggested at the origins of the philosophy of technology. Both Dewey and Heidegger, in effect, argued that the usual conceptualisation of technology being derived from science is wrong. Rather, science should be seen as a necessary tool for the development and operation of technology.” (Ihde 1993, p. 70 – 71).

From this, then, it is possible to place feminism outside the realms of science, alongside technology. It is with this view in mind that I have decided to place the cultural ‘sign’ of femininity (symbolised by the form of a mask) onto a representational sculpture, to demonstrate the way in which cultural connotations dictate ‘femininity’ as a performative or ‘normative’ identity. The idea of this sculpture is to incorporate motors that move part of the sculpture – one side representing the objective and the other representing the subjective – to move two led displays of signifying words back and forth as to represent a transformation of the constructed in contrast to the ‘Real.’ By this I mean that the left hand side would display words one might associate with what is typically ‘feminine,’ and on the right these words would be swapped for something that would instead display the ‘Real,’ or the subjective.

1. Ideology mask transforms ‘femininity’ as culturally defined into identity as Real as subjectively understood.

Alongside this, I have come up with an idea to more explicitly represent a subject’s understanding of their own identity. With the ‘interdiscliplinary’ nature of evolving technological practices in mind, I have specifically studied the use of technology in EMDR psychotherapy. The purpose of EMDR psychotherapy – meaning Eye Movement, Desensitisation, Reprocessing – is to re-access repressed memories in order to reprocess them as the way in which the subject would view the situation at present as opposed to how they interpreted the experience at the time. In EMDR psychotherapy the subject is given a set of headphones and follows the instruction of the therapist in order to access the memory or memories. The purpose of this sculpture would be to represent, on one side, the painful memory which causes the subject to experience trauma, and on the other, the transformed state of reprocessing which happens via the headphones. The headphone would perhaps play some kind of representational sound. The idea of this work in terms of speculative design would be to go with the view that one day, perhaps psychotherapy sessions would not be needed; that perhaps a subject could place this item against their ears and traumatic experiences would be erased.

2. Headphones alter the way in which memories are processed and thus effect the way in which we come to know ourselves/experience the world at present time.

I will experiment with Arduino and various sketches in order to determine the most realistic outcome of one or more of these ideas.

Bibliography

Dictionary (2013) [Online] Available from: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/speculation?s=t [Accessed 14 November 2013]

Ihde, Don. (1993) Philosophy of Technology: An Introduction. USA: Paragon.

Schrimshaw, Will. (2013) Ur-Writings. [Online] Available from: http://willschrimshaw.net/work/ur-writings/ [Accessed 14 November 2013]

Storey, John. (2009) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: An Introduction. Fifth Edition. London: Pearson.

Tate Modern (2013) [Online] Available from: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/project-space-word-sound-power [Accessed 14 November 2013]

Rokeby, David (2010) [Online] Available from: http://www.davidrokeby.com/murmurscape.html [Accessed 14 November 2013]

Weir, Andy. (2012) Deep Time Contagion. [Online] Available from: http://andyweir.info/photo_9678483.html#photos_id=9678483 [Accessed 14 November 2013]

Contemporary Culture 01: Language, Femininity, and Music Video Art: Representation and Connotations

Screen Shot 2013-09-25 at 13.03.39

Note: Again – broad entry, an attempt to tie together lots of ideas.

Language, Psychology, and Structuralism and Semiotics

In this blog entry it is my aim to briefly articulate links between language and psychology (the subjective; the internal), with a particular example of post-feminist media art and visual representation (the objective; the external). I will first begin to grasp this through recent studies on the relationship between the digital and the organic.

I will begin by summarizing of a text by Marshall McLuhan. In Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, the role of language is discussed in relation to visual media:

“The photograph is just useful for collective, as for individual, postures and gestures, whereas written and printed language is biased toward the private and individual posture.” (McLuhan 2013, Loc. 2735)

Here, McLuhan suggests that words can be personal in regards to individual consciousness in contrast to visual media (such as the photograph), which appeals to its audience in a broader sense; a reader of visual media is reached less directly than with written language. With this in mind, one might explore language – loosely – in context of semiotics.

“The field of semiotics,” as described by Terrance Hawkes, “is of course enormous.” (Hawkes 1977, p.124). In Structuralism and Semiotics, Hawkes describes the fields’ intrinsic relationship to one another:

“The interest of the two spheres are not fundamentally separate and… both ought properly to be included within the province of… communication.” (Hawkes 1977, p. 124).

Communication, respectively, is understood through language of both verbal and non-verbal natures; in terms of “semiotic theory,” written and spoken language is viewed as “an ordering of signs that constructs meaning.” (Barker 2004, p. 181). If language is organized by “rules and conventions,” (Barker 2004, p. 181) then, language is relative. By this I mean that words can be substituted by synonyms – ie. cat, lion, tiger etc. – which changes the meaning entirely in context of the whole sentence.

A recent text (Barker 2004) has outlined Saussure’s contribution to semiotics. Barker explains that Saussure conceived of a “wider science that would study the life of signs within society.” (Barker 2004, p. 182). With Saussure’s contribution in mind, Barker relates the study of semiotics to our contemporary society:

“Thus, Barthes and others within the field of structuralism applied semiotic analysis to the practices of popular culture with an eye to showing how it generates meaning. Indeed, it was argued that because all cultural practices depend on meanings generated by signs all cultural practices are open to semiotic analysis.” (Barker 2004, p. 182).

So, then, it can be argued that language can have multiple meanings within the framework of popular culture. With this view in mind, one can think of semiotics in relation to cultural or political contexts such as feminism, also outlined by Barker:

“As such, poststructuralist feminism is concerned with the cultural construction of subjectivity… femininity and masculinity, which are a matter of how men and women are represented, are held to be sites of continual political struggle over meaning.” (Barker 2004, p. 69).

Put simply, when thought of in context of semiotic theory, signs can change the meaning of language when used in culture. The word ‘pig,’ for example, could represent a farm animal in a children’s story. In a feminist debate, however, it could represent a certain type of man (ie. ‘chauvinist pig’).

The Power of Words in Exhibition, and the Multiplicity of Post-Feminist Attitudes

After a seminar discussion on the role of art in society I started to question the relationship between artworks and audience. Attending a talk on Hatton gallery’s Inspirational Women of North-East England I was conscious of the way in which its themes addressed the power of the voice. Not only this, but the frequent number of times in which the connotations of language surfaced during the discussion prompted my to further question the role of language and its effects.

Firstly, the exhibition itself addressed the role of the voice through direct quotation: black and white images of inspirational women from north-east England were coupled with the messages each individual voice strove to convey. Positioned next to the black and white images – black and white symbolising unity – each set of bold black words stood out, to name one example:

“If you do not raise your voice against the oppression, you are part of the oppression.” (Ummee Imam 2013)

Imam, who identifies as being both a Muslim feminist and a black feminist, speaks to the audience directly through the power of her voice.

IWNE prompted debate concerning ‘femininity’ and its connotations. In recent works, femininity has been discussed in context of cultural studies:

“For cultural studies, femininity is an identity category that refers to the social and cultural characteristics of being female. It is a discursive and performative construction that describes and disciplines the cultural meaning of being a woman… As such, femininity is a site of continual political struggle over meaning and there are multiple modes of femininity that are enacted not only by different women, but also by the same woman under different circumstances.” (Barker 2004, p. 68)

Here, Barker touches on the complexity of femininity and its mutability in context of contemporary culture. IWNE provoked discussion about ‘femininity’ and how its typical perceptions might be challenged by these voices of the inspirational women. Charlotte Harbottle, it was voiced, stood out as both a successful businesswoman and Tyneside butcher, striving to achieve accomplishments for other women in the trade in the north-east area.

Secondly, a prominent element of the discussion was concerning the word ‘feminism’ and its connotations. A number of people voiced in the discussion that a fear was common in expressing the word ‘feminist’ to their peers because of what one might call ‘mis-associations’: some associated words named were ‘anger,’ ‘resentment,’ ‘hate,’ and ‘confrontation.’ It is my view, however, that these associations are not only misrepresentations of an extensively diplomatic and considerate body of work, but a consequence of social myth and a lack of awareness.

In summary, I feel that exhibitions such as IWNE and their related talks have a purpose both to raise awareness and educate in order to dispel myth by connotations and oppressive terminology.

Music Video and the Politics of Representation and CocoRosie as Art

In contemporary culture, forms of representation are diverse. In recent studies, it has been argued that music video can be viewed as a platform for the representation of women:

“Music video… is concerned, on the one hand, to identify and critique images in which women are… misrepresented, falsely represented, or simply not represented at all, and, on the other, to celebrate positive images of women… promoting a broader range of possibilities, opportunities, and capabilities for women.” (Railton and Watson 2011, p. 18)

Femininity is represented in media, and, as outlined by Watson and Railton, results in both negative and positive images of women depicted by the lens. With this in mind, I would like to discuss one example of a thought provoking social commentary in music video.

Having recently attended a CocoRosie (one of my all-time favourite artists) concert at the Sage Gateshead, I have pursued my interests in reading around this intriguing part-French part-Cherokee sister act. A recent article (Salehnia, 2013) has described musicians CocoRosie:

“Sisters Bianca and Sierra Casady delve unabashedly into male-dominated art forms, collaborating sonically and visually on multidisciplinary projects. Their songs, theatrical performances, and provocative imagery explore the conceptual possibilities and socially accepted realities of what it is to be a woman and an artist.” (Salehnia, 2013)

The word ‘multidisciplinary’ is particularly fitting, as the ex-model duo not only displays both an aesthetically and majestically choreographed performance but also sustain a number of discursive narratives at the same time combining a multitude of experimental music genres. Below is footage of the CocoRosie concert at the Sage.

CocoRosie at the Sage Gateshead

The sisters often artistically paint and attach facial hair onto their faces with an attempt to express a woman’s place in patriarchal society. Salehnia quotes Bianca Casady of CocoRosie:

“The more you tune into it, the more you realize that, as a female, you’ve been excluded and you’re supposed to just paint yourself into the picture, into the male image.” (Cited by Salehnia, 2013)

As described, the sisters choose to “paint themselves” into the male picture, reshaping forms of both femininity and masculinity into a righteous hybrid. (Salehnia, 2013). Below is an example of a CocoRosie video, that can be argued to back Railton and Watson’s (2011) conviction that music video can provide a positive means for women as well as a negative.

In Lemonade the sisters present the harrowing story of their ‘schizophrenic father,’ through a video that is culturally aware, to music that sustains a somewhat bipolar tempo. In short, CocoRosie self-consciously manipulate gendered discourse in order to critique patriarchal order.

How Can I Apply These Ideas to My Project?

So far I have started to think about of language and its connotations in relationship to contemporary culture and media. In order to explore ‘femininity’ in more depth, I will start to investigate what might be considered as typically ‘feminine’ imagery. I came across a Venetian mask, and documented it below. This is something that I may continue further.

The symbolism of a mask (or masquerade) appeals to me in that I feel it has the potential so symbolise discourse and normative values; I will continue to explore this imagery.

Bibliography

Barker, Chris. (2004) The SAGE Dictionary of Cultural Studies. SAGE Publications Ltd: London.

Hatton Gallery (2013) Inspirational Women of North-East England [Online] Available from: http://www.iwne.org [Accessed 2 November 2013]

Hawkes, Terrance. (1977) New Accents: Structuralism and Semiotics. Methuen & Co.: London.

McLuhan ,Marshall. (2013) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man [e-book] Ginko Press. Available from: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Understanding-Media-The-Extensions-Man-ebook/dp/B00DIEZI7U/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383524088&sr=1-1&keywords=understanding+media

Railton, Diane and Watson, Paul. (2011) Music Video and the Politics of Representation. Edinburgh University Press: United Kingdom.

Salehnia, Shieva. Walker Art Centre (2013) “Patriarchy is Over”: Feminism in the Art of CocoRosie [Online] Available from:
http://blogs.walkerart.org/performingarts/2013/10/18/patriarchy-is-over-feminism-in-the-art-of-cocorosie/ [Accessed 2 November 2013]