|Letter from the editors:|
The potential of the projective digital image helps us to understand the topography of visual information we currently experience. Through examining the form of an image, the rise of digital documentation as prostheses, and surveying some methods used in art that exemplify the plasticity of images today, we hope to re-open conversations concerning our material relationships to digitally translated images.
Software and advertising are experienced on similar planes. Documentation images can act as extensions of an identity, be it a corporate brand, or national culture. They may be didactically referential to their immediate origin but secondarily communicate the history of its creation. It is consciously known that these appendages are separate from the architecture or space it is presented. Interfaces can be updates and signage can always be changed, but the consistent factors of experiencing these icons are the interactions framing the phenomena. The actual architecture of the space lies in the interaction, whether it is designed by a literal space or software.
Cultural appropriation acts as a tool for branding and identity crafting. The Bluetooth corporation created its logo inspired by the Scandinavian character: Blåtann. The name comes from a tenth century Scandinavian king, Harald Bluetooth, who managed to unite several unruly kingdoms. This de-centralization of a cultural phenomena is used to illuminate some relationship between the brand and the referenced subject. A similar historical unconcious behavior is illuminated by the studies of Israeli designers: Ami Drach and Dov Ganchrow.
Sean Raspet takes account for coded images in networked experiences:
"The shifting consolidation of image parameters of course does not occur in a linear fashion, but rather happens simultaneously, (and unfathomably) across a network of dispersed images and their derivatives. Increasingly an image refers not to its subject, but to its parameters, it's meta-image"
The nature of the image Raspet speaks of is relevant to the experience of images online. The frequently constructed network of images presented on the Internet allows frequent recontextualization through the architecture it is in. When Roland Barthes discusses a similar phenomena in Mythologies, he finds society as the force which provides identity to an image through its social usage:
The reoccurring watermarks, signatures and all collaged marks frame Ben Schumacher's work into something ethnographically original. The work documentation Schumacher presents online often consolidates ornament and object.
In Norman (Romanesque) the architectural style popular between the 6th and 10th century in Europe is preface for interpreting the sculpture. As described in the materials, the sculpture features "limestone corbels with plaster ornamentation, one clay brick, plastic on casters, seran cling wrap, custom printed tie." In a detail photo of the sculpture, three receipts are collaged into the composition. The data organizing systems (receipts, online image archives, etc.) present in Schumacher's work illuminate the presence of these parameters in bureaucratic exchanges. The frequent aesthetic comparisons drawn by Schumacher console understated conventions in information sharing.
C O N V E R S A T I O N
NICHOLAS O'BRIEN & HAYLEY SILVERMAN
N: I have many questions about what it means to make art online right now and how this production method often comes pre-disposed with an understood community/context. With that in mind, I want to question what community means for you; how it influences your practice, and where the people/artists/makers/projects that influence and nurture your work feed into your practice. Specifically, I want to see if the communities continue to extend themselves after/beyond the web.
I wanted to start with asking you how your work engages viewers differently when it is presented online, and what contrasts you've observed when it is presented offline.
N: How does this translate with works like 1st movement and SARS? I think one thing that draws me to the way that these works are presented on your website is that in the foreground you see the video and in the background you get the documentation of its installation.
H: Thanks. It's a new addition to my site.
N: But that is very deliberate, yes?
H: Sure, it's a choice I made. I do focus on the translation of my work from one context to the next. I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be exhibited/exposed and the necessity to self-design. Personal sites allow for a hyper-individualism that can magnify certain personalities. I don't invest the same amount of attention towards my own site, it is an artist website with access to my present body of work in which it can be presented best online.
H: All work has its own conditions that have to be re-considered in new contexts.
N: I think this is related to the questions above in that the site of distribution of any given work greatly influences that reading. I'm curious about how you engage your community or what community means to you since community is such a large part of my practice. In other words, being able to engage like-minded people, making work for them, or about them, or with them is very important for me.
H: Community is complex and usually related to my terrestrial coordinates. I would often think of my community as being the people immediately within my surround and whom I share lived experiences with. When I look at artists work online I process it differently. They are indexed as information.
I sometimes think of community as a veil for a collective understanding, that there is a presumption that we do indeed know each other. The social translated online creates an intense circulation, one that, as I said earlier, magnifies certain personalities. The second self, or the other self produced virtually, seems to be a contemporary project of redesigning "the old man into the new man"- contributing to an obsession with the relevant - the contemporary. Artistic production, curation, and reception will always be dangerously entangled with the social.
N: Do you think the web, as an interface for highlighting the social aspects of creative production, allow for more transparency for these communities to intermingle?
H: The web helps facilitate modes of engagement that do open up a dynamic space (one that is interlinked) but my primary vehicle in the production of my work is felt reality.
N: Can you elaborate on the term "felt reality".
N:It seems like you are putting that in opposition to creative production that occurs online.
H: That's complicated. I once assisted a video class taught by a spiritualist who also created a 'yoga drawing' center. She would emphasize the tactility not only of the body behind the camera but of the LCD screen itself. Their mobility allowed for a more vital shot. Oppositionally, I can always feel a camera at rest, mounted upon a tripod or table.
N: How does that tactility translate in your work?
H: That's for you to answer! I only know if what I've made translates through speaking with another. Dialogue can be seen as the new introspection.
N: My question about tactility then comes from a curiosity I have regarding these tools. Or else it might come from how these tools are being used in a very plain and direct way. Maybe understanding your process might help me (and others) understand those decisions and some of the concepts behind them. I'm drawing a parallel between the visual material in your videos and the virtual materials of the filtration/manipulations you are making and am wondering if that correspondence is something you consider.
H: Within that particular work, I wanted to work with satins. The medium always changes because its not the material that is the only subject.
N: If your choice in material and medium varies from project to project than I might want to move on to talk about the importance and relevance community plays within your work. Being able to engage like-minded people, making work for them, or about them, or with them is very important for me. What are some of your thoughts on how your peer group affects your work (particularly
Figure 1. Silverman, Hayley. Still from 1st Movement. 2009
H: Communities form as the intermittent and transitory outcomes of coordinates whether that be through geography, gender, race, or a process of filtration. How do we align ourselves with particular subjects or movements? Is it to protect ourselves from the voluminous waves of information that wash over us? At some point we could use convention to narrow ourselves, which is part of the reason I included the Myers-Briggs test: as a model. There have always been different vehicles of crowd control or ways to suppress individual freedom. The Myers-Briggs test was created to understand the individual but also, in effect, to control the individual (it's used for job screening/recruitment). It is as though identity is the condition of correct anticipation, given these restraints. I think the process of a thinker or maker is to invent places to explode to.
N: Communities then can be mobile?
H: Well it depends on how you define mobility. Jung's writing on "herd psychology" speaks about the rootlessness of modern people that results from a disaster not only of primitive tribes but also of modern man, in effect, causing a collective psychic injury. The herding of people into major megalopolises caused social and mental pathologies; thinking in large numbers would result in the rise of "mass psychology" also known as mass-mindness. This dependence on the externalization of culture (materialistic technology, commercial acquisitiveness) would enable the loss of spiritual culture. Within this ideology we have never stopped being mobile – it has become extended to another frontier – in this case, cyberspace.
N: This injury is probably linked to how I'm skeptical of the over simplification of what 'communities' embody and their potential limitations. If we have constant mobility - or have a history of it - creative content would then suffer from a kind of transience. However, people latch onto momentary glimpses within that haze and form small niches around them. I fear these pockets of communication and exchange don't lend themselves to further extension outside their immediate sphere. Do you see an inherent limitation within the establishment of these types of communities?
H: I'm not sure that's true. I do believe that people act as if history has ended. That nothing is connected to a lineage - which encourages people to behave not as historical actors but by living out their own demography.
N: But, how can we - as individuals as well as members of an artistic community - reverse or counter-act these restraints?
H: I don't feel restrained, so I'm not sure I can answer that. I also don't feel an acute sense of belonging.
N: I see what you mean, since I'm not sure whether the constraint(s) I feel about making work online is a limitation of my peers or a self-imposed limitation of myself and the community I speak for/with. I suppose I would hope to reach an audience beyond my community, but often I think that I have to run interference before any of that can even happen, and I get nervous that doing so can perhaps compromise some of the original intention of work I want to produce.
H: Yeah, a lot of new knowledge comes from a kind of friction or a collaborative unknowing. I think both parties have to be willing to image along. Imaging is integral to a person's forming of the world. We field our surroundings kinesthetically, tacitly, visually, aurally, olfactorily, and gustatorily all at once; and within combination with another we can allow for new sites of activation and articulation.
N: I definitely agree that sharing that willingness between audience and community is going to be the essential way that we can continue to extend and build this conversation and the environment that we collaboratively create.