The Honeymoon’s Over: Reflecting on the Internet Utopianism and the Arts Published to The Civic Beat

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of co-presenting on a panel with An Xiao Mina and Ben Valentine. Below is my excerpt of the full write up by all three of us published to The Civic Beat! Exciting!! Please feel free to share thoughts and comments. Or feel free to connect with me via Twitter @deedottiedot

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After the wonderful opportunity of co-presenting with Ben Valentine and An Xiao Mina of The Civic Beat, I have to admit, I actually looked up the term “honeymoon period.” The good ole internet actually provided two distinct definitions. Apparently the honeymoon phase for diabetics signals the start of insulin treatment while the Urban Dictionary states, “The three-month maximum period between a person’s entry into a new situation and a person’s complete screwing up of said situation or essential elements of it. This phenomenon is backed by massive amounts of studies in social psychology and even more massive amounts of personal testimony from bitter, angry people.”

The second definition sounds about right. But this reliance on the internet for research needs, a good laugh, and engaging in human rights activism has some disadvantages to it as well. Taking into account the very name of our panel, we tasked ourselves the tough question of whether the internet utopian vision and ideologies of the earlier internet still rang true today. We had three different ways to discuss the question. Not so surprisingly, I answered with a desire to not forget the body and our sensations. From social networking to internet bots to memes, my plea to the audience for the evening was to not forget our sense of self and body in this highly mobile age.

While technology moves at a feverishly rapid pace, we may find ourselves lost even before we figure out the best way to look, research, and obtain exactly what we need. I decided to focus on how new media artists use the internet and mobile technologies that incorporate the body somehow. Whether through augmented reality or applications to actually embodiment of a fictitious or mythical character or creature online, I found myself interested in how new media artists are dismantling such ideologies.

During the presentation, one of the individuals I focused on was new media artist John Craig Freeman. He uses augmented reality in his artistic practice, which is heavily used by advertisers to overlay landscapes and buildings with branding for marketing purposes. But Freeman uses this technology to interrogate the politics of space. Essentially, anyone with a smart phone and the internet can find out about the objective and purpose of each of his interventionist projects.

For the past year, I have examined his piece, Border Memorial: Fronteras de Los Muertos, which enables a viewer to download augmented reality application Layar. Once downloaded, the user has the option of travelling to specific locations, in this case, the US Mexican border, and holding their phone to the landscape. Calacas or skeletons appear on the screen. These serve as markers to specific spots within the landscape where the remains of migrants attempting to cross the border have been found and identified.

Now, I don’t want to end on such a sad note but you’re probably asking yourself why I’m so interested in addressing the original question or problem statement with emphasis on such a tricky concept of embodiment. Quite frankly, the word alone makes me feel like I’m falling into an abyss. But it also reminds me that the internet has a way of making us forget about our bodies and our senses. Rather, it amplifies this need for us to only focus on vision.

Perhaps, my academic research and investment in in real life (IRL), physical activism prompts me to try and strike this unending balancing act. While I straddle the lines of loving and hating the internet, I’m forced to have a relationship with it. So I wonder if there was ever a honeymoon period to begin with? Am I not in the dating phase of still getting to know this rhizomatic entity that continues to excite yet infuriate me? Ha! Sure sounds like one a rewarding relationship and like any relationshipone that takes A LOT of work to understand.

Full write up can be read here.

Review of Shih Chieh Huang at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in Daily Serving

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The flickering, multi-colored lights of Shih Chieh Huang’s installation Synthetic Seduction, now on view at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, reminds me of the cellular and molecular models found in biology classrooms. When I was a student, one of the ways in which I learned about organic forms was by placing mitochondria, lysosomes, and nuclei in their correct locations in these models. Huang also re-creates life with synthetic, mundane materials, but with much more technical and mechanical sophistication. While Huang’s forms may not overtly mimic reality, his work serves as an interpretation of structures working in concert. Read the entire write-up here.

Asterisk SF Artist Profile on Scott Kildall

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Excerpt from “The Art of Scott Kildall”

Kildall’s residency at the organization yielded a body of work involving a prospector in the year 2049, one who is scavenging, reinvigorating, and resurrecting discarded materials at the dump. From a figurative latex mask to the circuitry of bulky electronics that simulate transmissions from the future, his work illustrates a future founded on re-purposing the present. These unusual materials in particular were used to create his sculptural works “The Sniffer” and “The Universal Mailbox,” which were accompanied by large wooden blueprints explaining the function of each imaginary device. As a part of the installation, Kildall performed as the prospector, scavenging the Recology premises. His consumption of vacuum-packaged food products in his video performance was probably the most jaw-dropping moment of the installation. (Fortunately, he did not get sick.) Please click here to read the rest of the piece.

Enjoy!

You know you’re in Art School when…

Performance Piece by artist Ken Becker from Dorothy Santos on Vimeo.

One of your brilliant classmates hacks open a sculptural work during a performance piece. I will be posting more pictures this weekend but one of the graduate wide electives I took this past semester was Sound, Music, and Technology. Ken was in my class and when he proposed his project, it was difficult for me to envision it other than him destroying something he built. Then, the night of our final projects exhibition arrived. We all gathered in The Nave at California College of the Arts (CCA) on the San Francisco campus and watched his performance. Fortunately, I have pretty steady hands and was able to get Ken in action. Watch it and feel free to comment. Personally, I love his piece BUT I’m curious what you think before I start sharing my opinion and breaking it down. Enjoy!

Imagine 2049 Time Capsule

Click on the image above to visit Imagine 2049 and submit your invention for inclusion in the Time Capsule!

I recently submitted an Invention for the Imagine 2049 time capsule, which is part of Scott Kildall’s series, 2049.

You can submit your invention for the future at www.imagine2049.com.

All “future inventions” submitted before Thursday, January 10th will be placed in the time capsule and opened in the year 2049. Please consider being a part of this project. Here is my entry for the time capsule:

“A five senses book that would enable people to see, hear, taste, smell, and touch objects and things from any time in history. Warning text would be placed on whatever entry the reader wishes to learn more about and experience. It would be a comprehensive inventory with help text on understand the historical, cultural, and societal context of the item the reader wishes to examine. Although there would be an option to experience the object or thing, the reader is unable to bring it into the future. If they wish to live with that object or thing, they would need to make the decision and sacrifice to give up living in the future and live in the past. They would not be able to return. This would be the Book of the Five Senses.”

Hella More Funner making art Hella More Fun (for All)

Hella More Funner, Artist Feature in Asterisk SF Magazine

Information overload is all too common with today’s readily accessible images, text, and video. Even language reveals our dependence on the Internet, with the word google not only referring to a company but also being used as a verb in lieu of search. The Internet and social media have become ubiquitous in our daily routines. Need an image of a dog? A cat? Or how about a dog holding a cat? You will probably find what you’re looking for. As a matter of fact, you will probably find over 1 million images and more.

Ask artists Sam Fuchs and Adam Gray— commonly known by their moniker, Hella More Funner—about this deluge of images. The art duo has incorporated this constant stream of communication, imaging searching, indexing and everything we feed the Internet as fodder, inspiration and the basis for their large-scale collages. The resulting artwork looks at the current generation and how it’s inundated by data, immediacy, gratification and a voyeuristic obsession of viewing ourselves and others.

Since 2007, Hella More Funner has created works based on re-appropriated imagery of culture. When asked about their studio practice and creative process behind their artworks, they noted, “Obsessiveness is the key; we are connoisseurs of Google Image search, aficionados of Flickr and buffs of Wikimedia Commons. We copy and cut and compose images by the thousands without concerning ourselves with trivialities such as the subject’s historical origins, owner attribution, or a perfect and direct connection to the theme of the piece. And it’s not just us. Our process reflects our peers. … We start with an idea, decide on categories of images that relate to that theme, and build an archive. The archive serves as a trail of breadcrumbs for us and building blocks for the collage.”

As visual archaeologists, they showcase our relationship to popular culture through large-scale works such as “Cielo” or “Beachy Head,” which entice the viewer with bright and audacious colors. Standing in front of one their works, it is easy to find one familiar image after another. Even with unfamiliar images, the massive collection of photos meshes and blurs together to create what looks like a mythical creature, being, or landscape. Much like our own experiences in sifting through email messages or virtually stumbling and clicking on morning headlines, Hella More Funner has taken familiar behavior and created collections for the viewer. The longer we look, the more we realize the amount of information we take in, and it may lead to a sense of anxiety and angst. Either way, the work provokes the viewer to perceive far more than the tiny images that make up the whole.

Whether the work appears as a meditation or effrontery to the senses, Fuchs and Gray show what they have coined as a “garbage culture.” The collective defines this particular phrase as “anything that serves to distract or delay any real and unmediated experience—a connection with another person, for example. It is in everything that promises happiness and youth, every product that promises the bikini babe, every ripped athlete selling a cheeseburger. Garbage! You know it when you see it.”

However, is the viewer able to give up looking at some point? Hella More Funner’s phenomenal, meticulous, and labor-intensive compositions aim to make contemporary art, well, hella more funner. At first glance, the works may be more than you can visually handle but, let’s face it, you know you want the cute kittens, the six-pack abs, the beautiful women, football players dancing in clouds, dolphins midflight, rain-soaked flowers, and angels fighting demons, because it’s all present and ready for consumption. It’s all there for you and your viewing pleasure.

Originally published and posted to Asterisk SF Magazine, please click here