In Degree Show One – part 1, Sarah Kante looked at the ways in which CSM graduating art students reacted to or questioned the themes of Time, Social Media and Identities. In this article, she continues to look at Degree Show One, this time through the lens of students who took an interest in the idea of Environments and Realities – virtual, physical, fragmented…
Once the self is defined – or tries to be – as we have seen in part 1, it needs an environment to exist and evolve in. The spatial questioning of digital technologies and digital environments is perfectly captured by Soraya Fatha (BA Fine Art), with her four-channel video and Internet installation with sound project, Theatre of the Lens.
My practice as an artist is often to act as a curator of interactions. Using the fragmented and repetitive rhythms of Internet browsing to develop a critique on current ‘social’ Internet usages and cross-platform communication habits. I encourage the participant to question our conflict, contradiction and antagonism with the action of ‘new age’ Internet navigation. It is a very intimate relationship we have with digital technology.
Using the analogy of the desktop to reference the centre, the centre of ‘our’ universe, Theatre of the Lens constructs ‘Cyberspace’. My physical installation in the gallery space recreates starry landscapes simulating stepping into a Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion desktop. Presented with gaming podiums the viewer is invited to operate multiple devices through especially created online platforms to a backdrop of an audio composition of computer manipulation sounds.
Creating digital and physical environments, the work exists as a continuum online and in the temporary exhibition space. These renegotiated environments for viewing the work create diverse encounters and different interactions reflecting the Internet’s openness, transparency and access.
In the exhibition space collectable aesthetics related to computer entertainment and gaming draw parallels between the evolution of technology and how we as humans adapt and navigate through digital landscapes. www.theatreofthelens.com
Sonja Vrkatic is another student who touches on the environmental theme.
Troubles with the map is imagined to simulate some version of paradoxical info room, or info booth, consisting of distorted documentation. The information provided through the segments of the installation is rendered, fictionalised, and in that way is unable to deliver. However, its aim is to realise a moment in which a place becomes significant through its endangerment.
Digital technologies are important part of my work. Since my work is imagined as not having strict beginnings and ends, information that it provides to the viewers varies from the moment they find themselves in contact with it. In that sense, through digital technologies I am able to think about the realisation of my work as not stable, but as perpetually changing environments.
Fragmentation and the question of Realities
A theme that seemed to really fascinate graduating students is that of fragmentations, and ‘realities’. The ideas of skewed realities, of not seeing the big picture and of disparate points of view, were explored by many.
Sophie Green (BA Fine Art) exhibited a pixelated portrait that made me stop and stare.
My creative process begins with black and white photographic portraits which are surrounded by abnormal narratives. They often involve warped, contaminated and irregular stories that question truth. They feature harsh aspects of contested contexts that verge on controversy, involving falsified and questionable realities. I’ve recently been inspired by the book Wisconsin Death Trip (1973) by Michael Lesy, which presents bizarre accounts of crime, suicide, murder and mental breakdowns in an American town in 1890. The painting ‘Crazy Lady’ (203cm x 153cm) is an interpretation of an image found in the book.
I intended to manipulate, distort and disturb the image further. I used the programme GIMP to pixelate the image. I enjoyed the visual appearance of a pixelated image, since it blurs and corrupts. But by pixelating the source image I was also able to create a grid on the image. This would enable me to enlarge onto a larger scale. I work in processes and stages.
The pixels allow a tension between representation and abstraction, which has become central to my work. Crazy Lady creates confusion by altering the viewer’s perception as they offer two viewpoints. In the distant view the image becomes clear and visible, but close up, it is in a different form. The focus then is not on the image itself, but the surface. The surface of the painting is an important feature. I poured wax on top of the work, this mean that it blurred each square together, and created a clouded appearance.
The eye oscillates between the image and the material. My working process relies on both order, through the selection of the image and then the chaotic use of material. This juxtaposition calls for re-inspection, as it does for contested narratives. sophielouisegreen.com
Fragmentation and perceptions in the digital realm stems from the fragmentation of information: data. In Data Traffic, Pietro Catarinella (MA Photography) questions our very perception of content in the digital environment that is the Internet.
How do we perceive images and texts in relation to the experience of the Internet?
Data Traffic presents a paradoxical surface where digital and analog, virtual and real are indistinguishable giving light to a ‘nomadic image’, i.e., a playful critic of representation. It is an image without subject (in a sense a fractal images) where reproductions appear and collapse in constant circular movement, a continuous renewal of the same tension between concealing and revealing. Even though photography is the very core of the project, it escapes the standard way of perceiving and understanding this medium: photography is no longer an object but rather a kind of ‘never ending’ visual experience.
Everything is integral to the process: the action of subverting linear processes where the final image is not preconceived but rather the opposite. This is not considered as a linear trajectory from point A to point B, but an incessant repetition of the same compositional and de-compositional act. The images constructed result from a particular moment in the present, concluded and dynamic at the same time. The concentration of registered movements reflects the condensed saturation of Internet images entering our field of vision. The piece is therefore resulting from continuous manipulation. There is also an element of randomness attached to sampling and surfing.
Some of the techniques included are digital imaging, screenprinting, direct transfer of digitally printed images from acetates and paper and painting.
The project combines apparently separated media and techniques, escaping any standard categorisation. www.pietrocatarinella.com
Data is the composition of everything. As such, it is, depending on your viewpoint, the whole picture or the tiniest part of the story. Such as a star is a world contained in itself or part of a galaxy, depending on whether you have your two feet on the ground or are up floating in space. In Nachthimmel, Installation (2014) (60 unframed inkjet prints, 1 framed inket print, 280×320 cm), Paul Hutchinson (MA Photography) explores the image making processes of astrophotography.
This piece emerged out of my research into the sophisticated image-making processes that are applied in scientific astrophotography. The installation addresses the data fragmentation that is key in these processes and which aids to turn linear numeric data into non-linear images. I chose this topic – data fragmentation – for the degree show as it is not just essential in science but also in everyday digital life: each time we access or store information on a hard drive; each time we look at a screen; the information we perceive is, to some extend, fragmented and only forms a coherent picture when seen as a bigger whole.
In the installation I juxtapose a fragmented, digitally captured, star (unframed prints) with an eclipse-like form I created in the darkroom by using traditional, analog photographic techniques (framed print). paul-hutchinson.com
I wanted to end this exploration of the Degree Show One 2014 with Stephanie Galea’s work (MA Photography). We have, to some extent, come full circle, the snake is finally biting his tail. Concerned with reality, but also time, and their representation in a world where digitised ‘reality’ might glitch, be misinterpreted or simply be erroneous, Stephanie’s work is concerned with environment, time, and reality.
My works stems form the observation of the sea as an online environment. These photographs are screenshots taken with online observational tools; namely Google Maps and Google Earth. As I traverse this realm, I encounter interruptions in what is meant to be a seamless representation of the Earth’s surface where, ‘Immediate experience is perceived as authentic experience’. (Quaranta et al., 2011, p. 9) As I confront these anomalies; a result of the programs’ computational algorithm, I find myself alienated as I am reminded that I am observing a spectacle, not real life. I document disturbances in our anticipation of this digital narrative; a Brechtian interlude. Some of the images resemble of abstract paintings, defined by radical colour changes and resolution variations. One can observe pattern changes, the disappearance of vessels and the appearance of that which should not be present in this supposedly systematic realm. The poor image characterized by dramatic changes in resolution also leads us to think whether it is accidental or deliberate. What are we allowed to see? I strive to be a collector, a re-appropriator and archivist of these disruptions and fluid striations in an attempt to stop time and pull them out of this realm which is constantly being updated and ‘improved’. Images disappear, time disappears and everything is eventually replaced. What I have captured yesterday may not be present today, in a space where time is flat and as it passes, years are interwoven into this plane representation, this smooth map of time. www.stephaniegalea.com
What is reality in a digitalised world? What is time in a timeless society where two points of the world collide on Skype, and everything online has no time limits, ageless? What is identity when the self is defined, not only by those who know you, but those who don’t and draw conclusions from your social media profiles? What is your environment when it is mediated by Google Earth? Whilst everything seems seamless and timeless, to be digital means to be fragmented, and this is something that we might miss, as human beings looking at the big picture, or on the contrary, become obsess with, losing the sense of “whole” of what surrounds us.
The artists who exhibited at this Degree Show asked a lot of questions. It is up to us, as a collective, to try and answer them.
There were, of course, many more projects that touched on Digital Technologies. Cecilie Ellen Thulin with Hack Yourself, an interactive web based installation that is concerned with questioning the perceived functionalities of our organisations of flow through intentionally corrupting the information contained within the digital data of the video files is but one example. loopsofconflict.site44.com