Monday, December 10, 2012

Final Paper

Artists: Nick Yulman and Matt Richardson
            When looking through the extensive list of artists that we were able to choose from for this final paper and presentation I knew what I was looking for. Two artists who were different, unique and did more than take a paintbrush to a canvas or messed around in Photoshop or final cut. Nick Yulman and Matt Richardson both did projects different from anything I have ever seen done before and they both took a unique spin on everyday objects.
            The piece by Nick Yulman caught my attention because it is a unique music mixer. We had just completed our Youtube mixer project and when I found this it was like this was a mixer outside of the digital world. Yulman took what we had done on the computer, but did it in real life using a drawer full of every day objects. This piece is called Song Cabinet and it is an interactive art music piece.  Users can activate the by exploring the contents of a set of drawers (Yulman).  Each of the drawers contain small mechanical instruments that are digitally controlled and they play varying patterns depending on how far the drawer is pulled out. One interacts with the Song Cabinet by opening and closing drawers they can mute and unmute various parts of the drawer and even select various musical patterns. A user is able to become somewhat of a DJ and mix their own song by using these different methods and interacting with Song Cabinet in different ways. The objects contained in each drawer, are from Yulman’s personal collection and are associated with particular places, indicated by the labels on the drawers. In exploring the collection, users coax these static objects into a rhythmic dialog with each other and create an intermingling of their associated memories (Yulman).
Yulman created Song Cabinet with the intent of allowing individuals to be able to make music without needing to have and instrumental ability. As long as a user knows what sounds good and what they like to hear they are able to make music from found objects by just opening the drawers of the cabinet. The more a user plays with the drawers not only do they get to make different sounds and create music, but also get to see all the interesting ways that Song Cabinet works and how it is that it works.
            The second artist I have chosen to focus on is Matt Richardson and his piece Descriptive Camera. This piece of work really caught my attention because I have always thought about pictures and how they are said to speak a thousand words, but Richardson is able to actually give pictures and scenes words. Instead of looking at a scene and snapping a picture of it, words are developed and instead of looking at the objects that are contained within a scene one is able to think about the objects that are there. The Descriptive Camera works like a regular camera in the sense that a user points it at a subject or a scene presses the shutter button and it is captured. However, instead of producing an image, this uses what is called crowd sourcing to output a text description of the scene instead of an image of the objects. Modern digital cameras capture gobs of "parsable" metadata about photos such as the camera's settings, the location of the photo, the date, and time, but they don't output any information about the content of the photo. The Descriptive Camera only outputs the metadata about the content (Richardson). This is not jut a simple interactive piece there is a lot of technology that has gone into making it able to do what it is capable of doing. The technology behind the core of the Descriptive Camera is Amazon's Mechanical Turk API, which allows a developer to submit Human Intelligence Tasks also known as HITS for workers on the Internet to complete. The developer is able to set the guidelines for each task and can sets a price they are willing to pay for successful completion of each task. For faster and cheaper results, the camera can also be put into "accomplice mode," where it will send an instant message to any other person. That IM will contain a link to the picture and a form where they can input the description of the image (Richardson).  
The Descriptive Camera is connected to the Internet using an Ethernet cord and gets power from an external 5-volt source. How it comes together to work is once the shutter button is pressed the device uploads the picture to the web, which is then described within minutes by users on Amazon's Mechanical Turk service. Then the short description is sent back to the camera and printed by the thermal printer resulting in text that is printed in in the style of a Polaroid print. There is a lot of technology behind the Descriptive Camera and it is more than just taking a photograph and getting words from it, but a whole digital process.
My work comes first from exploring technology that interests me. I like to see how it works, how well it works, how people use it, and how it falls short. This process is about figuring out what it affords me in terms of expression. Is it something worth better understanding so that I can have it in my toolbox? Through that process of understanding the technology, the work tends to organically come from my research into it. As I work with the technology, I ask a bunch of "What if I..." questions and see where it goes,” said Richardson.  
Both artists Yulman and Richardson are the same in the sense that they took simple everyday objects and made something extraordinary and unique out them. They were able to make these objects into forms of digital interactive art. Yulman took drawers and his own personal objects to make a mixer, which users can make sounds and music with depending on how far they open the drawers. He made it possible for the user to become a composer with something so simple. There is no need for one to have the ability to play an instrument because the drawers and the objects they contain are the instruments and all the user has to do is pull out drawers and play around with them to find out which ones to pull out and how far until they come up with something amazing.        Then there is Richardson who took the everyday object of a camera and made it do what no one could have thought possible. His Descriptive Camera gives pictures words, and even though there is human input involved and the camera doesn’t work entirely on its own the idea behind it is simply amazing and allows a user to see and think about what is in the picture they have taken. Both artist have really taken these ordinary objects and turned them into pieces of interactive art that are so unique and different. Their pieces allow users to step out of the ordinary world and set aside the thoughts of how these objects are supposed to work and create something truly amazing, unique and different.
Even though both these artists are very similar in the ways that they used ordinary objects to create their interactive pieces they are in fact different. Yulman is all in the drawers and all up to the user there is no outside source assisting what the drawers are outputting. Whereas Richardson’s piece relies on outside human input to give the picture taken words. It doesn’t work on it’s own like Yulman’s drawers do, if it were not for the input of the users of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service the thermal printers wouldn’t have the information needed to develop the text picture polaroid.
Besides differences and similarities in their works each artist is different and similar as well. They are both similar in the sense that they both know their craft and it is very clear what that craft is through their pieces. They differ in that their craft is different and their knowledge is different. Yulman is known not just for being an artist who creates digital works, but is a musician as well, which I believe is obvious though his piece of Song Cabinet. Without the knowledge of a musician I don’t believe that his piece would have come out like it did. It is clear that he took the time in thinking about how each object would sound and how the drawers would affect the sound. Richardson is a creative technologist who likes to make digital art and produce video. Through his piece Descriptive Camera I think it is clear what his interest is and he is indeed knowledgeable about technology and producing. There is a lot of technology behind how his piece works and how it is able produce words instead of a picture. He definitely put a creative spin on technology and how it can be used.
In conclusion, both artist created very similar pieces in the sense that they both took everyday objects and create unique interactive art out of them, but different because each has a different means of how the information is outputted, one piece works on it’s own and the other requires human input. Each artist is talented and knows their craft and their knowledge comes through in these two pieces, which I believe best represent their artistic ability. They may have knowledge in different areas and fields of digital media, but both of them were able to create pieces that were very similar in the way that the user will be able to experience something outside the norm by pulling drawers in and out to make music, or by taking a photo and having words be developed instead of an image. They both are able to take users to a different realm of the technology world and be apart of creating something different than they ever have before.
                                                          Works Cited
Richardson, Matt. "Descriptive Camera." Rhizome. N.p., May 2012. Web. 1 Dec. 2012.
Richardson, Matt. "Digital Media Essay." Message to the author. 2 Dec. 2012. Web. 1     Dec. 2012.
Yulman, Nick. "Song Cabinet." Rhizome. N.p., Apr. 2012. Web. 1 Dec. 2012.

Prospectives '12 Paper

Prospectives 2012 International Festival of Digital Media
The Prospectives International Festival of Digital Media kicked off on the 18th of October and continued through the 19th. There were three events that not only intrigued me, but also fit my schedule. I was able to attend part of the present panel discussion on the 18th, a street event also on the 18th, and then a project/sound event on the 19th.
            On the 18th I was able to attend the panel discussion that was held in the Joe Crowley Student Union building. Unfortunately, I was unable to go to all of it, but was able to sit through quite a bit of the last panel discussion with artists Morehshin Allayari, Conor Peterson, F. Myles Sciotto and Annie Wan and found what the artists were talking about interesting. I showed up right as Wan was discussing her project of Around the Corner and was only able to catch the tail end of her presentation. I thought that I had missed the entirety of the last discussion panel for the day, but then the question arose of whether or not technology is gendered. Most of the artists agreed that they had never really thought about it before and that males and females will pick things up differently like colors and textures and they look at the world differently, so of course their art is going to be different. They all addressed the fact that there is a clear gap that exists, but that based on gender an artist will pursue their work in a different way and approach technology and the way they use it differently. There was not a lot that I was able to visually see during the panel discussion, but it definitely opened my mind to the different works that we have seen in class over the past few projects and how Carl and Brian have both approached them differently than the rest of us. It has also been interesting to keep this in mind throughout the rest of the semester while listening to their critiques along with Ben’s versus the rest of the class.  When it has been a visual assignment girls are more about how it looks, the color, the images used, is it cute, is it calm looking, and things like that. Whereas the guys in the class have seemed to be more concerned with the meaning behind the project and the underlying messages of ones project rather than the way it looks.
The next event that I was able to attend was probably my least favorite and the least interesting out of the three events that I was able to make it to. The street event I went to was Clint Sleeper’s Card Player and Computer. I went to it the night of the 18th when it was set up outside the Church Fine Arts building. He set up a bunch of equipment and had a tarp laid out so that spectators could sit and participate in the card game. His piece was supposed to question the relationship between technology and street art. He used an audio processing system and had guitar effects and other neat audio effects playing to combine a somewhat eerie technologic sound. I don’t think I liked it that much because I didn’t really understand what his project was trying to portray or how it was classified as street art. It was just not at all what I had expected.
The last event I attended was my absolute favorite. It was the project/sound exhibit held in dome at the Fleischmann Planetarium. Four artists showed work, which was specifically designed to be shown in the dome and it was seriously neat. The first artist, Brian Baumbush, was my favorite out of the three. He piece involved sine wave samples to create symmetrical scales that produced different tones and beats because of their parallel relationship. As a new sound was introduced the line would change and would go faster or slower depending on the sound that was produced. His project used the dome the best out the four that were shown and I don’t think that it would have had the same visual effect if it were to be shown in a computer screen or projected out onto a flat surface.  Seeing it in the dome really made you almost feel like you were in the project with these lines and different sounds. It was a really neat feeling that I have never experience before and took the idea of being immersed into art to a different level.
The next artist was Josh Golman who used an image of a mouth, which would make different sounds and noises. To me this one was just weird and I didn’t like watching it. It got a little uncomfortable and I found that I can only watch a mouth making unusual noises for so ling before I cannot look at it anymore and had to close my eyes through the rest of it because it just got way to weird. His image was also a flat image that only projected on to the front part f the dome and didn’t successfully use the entirely of the dome like Baumbusch’s project did.
The third artist was Nick Hwang. I think his project was supposed to do more than it actually did because he explained it as a fixed media piece where an expanding line would repeat itself until completed but it just ended up being composed sound and no image at all. This was unfortunate because I think his project would have come through a lot better if the line would have showed up and it wouldn’t have just been composed sound because it was not as visually appealing to sit in the dark and hear sounds. Although I do have to admit that there is something about listening to music in the dark that makes it visually appealing. It allows your imagination to see the music and not just hear it. Once I realized that the image was not going to show up I just used my ears and the composed sound came alive in my imagination.
The last artist was Phan Visutyothapibal and he actually used the audience to help his represent his piece, which made it even more visually appealing because it was like the piece was in the hands of the audience and the people who were able to go up and interact with it. He used a stethoscope hooked up to a microphone to make ones heartbeat visually appear through a projected image on the dome. It was really neat to actually see the heart beat of one appear. It was also cool to see how the lines would change and react differently if one was to speak or make noises. I think this one was one of the coolest because the image and sound depended on the person who was interacting with it. This was not a piece that was fixed it is forever changing, which made it extremely neat.
In conclusion to the events that I attended during the Prospectives 2012 International Festival of Digital Media I found the present panel discussion the most interesting, the street the most confusing and less interesting, and the project/sound event the most visually intriguing. I love working with sound and images so I found it interesting that this is the events that intrigued me the most. I was very interested in the projects that these artists came up with and how they were able to create these images and compose sound to go with these images and make their pieces come together in such unique ways.

Exhibit Paper

Amy Sacksteader: Will Have Been
            For an additional art event I went to Amy Saacksteader’s exhibit, Will Have Been. This was an interesting exhibit and was not at all what I was expecting. When I first walked in the gallery it seemed like there was barely any artwork. I did a quick walk through and then decided to stop and look at each piece closely and take my time trying to figure out what her work was about.
            The gallery contained numerous pieces that at first I did not understand, but once I read Sacksteaders artist statement I was able to make a little more sense out of her exhibit. She stated that she is interested in records of past events, lived histories, and significant sites. The first piece seen when walking into her exhibit is a drawing of the word silver. Then as you go into the gallery there is what seems to be random objects. My favorite pieces visually were the two biggest pieces in the room because I liked the way that they took up the space in the gallery. One was named “Artifact” and is a desk with a chair that is a former workstation that she had installed in her exhibit. A lamp, paints, paper and other art supplies sit on top of the desk. It was visually appealing because at first it is not clear as to why this desk is sitting in the middle of her exhibit, but once I found out that she is interested in doing works that represent the past I could see why this workstation was in her exhibit—it was an artifact. Another piece that I liked was also a main focus in her exhibit and it was made out of what looked like artificial snow, but was actually rock salt and around the rock salt there were safety cones that had LED’s under them. I don’t really understand what the meaning behind this piece was, but I thought that it was visually appealing and I thought what she used to create the piece was interesting. I never would have thought of using rock salt, safety cones, and power cords to create a piece, but she did and for me it made me think of the way the weather has been and how it has effected people. The piece that I didn’t really like was one she named Slide and Rose which was a silver leaf on paper. I guess I didn’t like this one because I didn’t get anything out of it because I felt as though it was really generic and not as visually appealing as the other work in her exhibit.
            When I had this exhibit in mind I was expecting a lot more and was not really impressed with the work, but she did have some very appealing pieces. Her paintings and drawings named “Silver,” “Sunset and Sunrise” and “Tahoe and Pyramid” were all really good, but there were elements to the exhibit that I didn’t understand or find remotely visually appealing. However, it did look as though she knew how she wanted it all to come together and had a really good sense of what she wanted it to look like in the gallery because everything was very carefully placed and came together visually as a whole. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Second Life: Progress

This past week I attempted to do face mapping, but was unsuccessful so I just made my avatar look like me the best that I could. Then I also created my fantasy self and found out that a ghost was not probable unless you hack Second Life to make your avatar invisible, so I parted with that idea. I had the idea of an elf or leprechaun and ended up at a fairy. I just love how tiny and cute they are so I decided that for my fantasy self I wanted to be a cute, freckled, rosy cheeked fairy. I did a lithe traveling in Second Life as well. I recently went to St. Louis and the arch was my absolute favorite..and could possibly be one of the coolest landmarks I have ever seen. So I was curious if in second life you could visit places like this and you can! I need to take a little more time to really learn what else there is to see!

Face mapping attempt...
Fantasy Self: Fairy 
Full Body Image: Self 
Visited St. Louis and did a little flying :) 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Second Life

My plan for my fantasy self is to create a ghost like charter, or suggested by my gamer little brother, a phantom. In all the video work I have done this semester I have played with the opacity levels and layers videos and pictures, it has become somewhat of a theme or "signature" in my work. I thought that since I have been doing this for a good majority of the semester why not continue with this signature effect and make my fantasy self a ghostly character. I am not quite sure how I am going to accomplish that, but I am sure with some playing around with Second Life and Google I can figure it out.

Screenshots from what I have been working with:

I worked on my real life avatar and made it look a little more like me. I attempted the photoshop technique, but couldn't quite figure it out. Then I practiced teleporting, intreating with others in the game, and sitting. I also did a little flying..which is a little more tricky thank I thought it was going to be. The controls were a little weird to get used to at first and my screen would zoom in and out every once in awhile, but I am starting to get the hang out it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Screenshots of Youtube Mixer

I have nine videos and could't get them to all fit in one screenshot, so I took two screenshots so my whole mixer could be seen.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Commentary on The Shallows

This was one of my favorite projects that we have done so far this semester. I liked how we were able to take what we saw in our head while reading and make it into an actual video. There were certain paragraphs that classmates created through video that were exactly what I saw happening in my head while reading, but there were others that I definitely didn't think of, but that still hit the paragraph on the head. I thought it was really interesting to see how we were able to take this article and create a short film to represent it. I think everyone did an excellent job. There wasn't a 30 second clip that I saw and didn't like, they were all really good and well represented the paragraph they were portraying.
My favorite transition had to be the ones in Jenie's video because I really like how she uses videos on top of one another and has the videos playing behind her clock videos.  I like how you can see everything that is going on in the videos even though they are layers, and like the use of opacity and the flow of her transitions throughout the video.
I believe that Erin's video was the best portrayal of her paragraph in the reading. When I read this paragraph and thought about doing it for my video this is what I had in mind and she nailed it. I think that everyone wanted this paragraph and they wanted to see the portrayal of the little kid drawing that Carr opened with and she opened her video with the perfect video to portray this. Out of all of the videos I believe that this one was the most visually loyal to the article. Everyone else did a great job at portraying their paragraphs, but I believe that Erin did the best job with representing every detail in paragraph one.
Reading and watching the article was definitely different. While reading it I was keeping in mind what I would do with videos to portray each paragraph and when watching it I enjoyed seeing what everyone else had in mind. Personally, I enjoyed watching it more than reading it because I really enjoyed seeing how everyone came up with unique portrayals of each paragraph and how they all came together as one video that actually did a really good job representing the article as a whole. Reading the chapter, one may get more specifics out of it and details. Watching the article one may miss out on those specifics and details because of the way we chose to interpret each paragraph and focus on the main idea of the pargraph we were assigned or only a certain part that jumped out at us.