Sunday, 5 June 2016

Eva and Franco, All My Messages and Coherence

It's been a slow week, and with no real space to work in I’ve been getting incredibly tired of my room, wasting away the time until I return to Suffolk, slowly realising that everything is over and its basically time to leave London. Of course I have exactly two weeks left here, and plan to use my time wisely, going to a range of exhibitions that I’m yet to go to alongside the prep for the show, it’s just that it’s very draining having nowhere to go to, even though sitting around is the opposite of that…

            In terms of work, I’ve been continuing on with the various projects. The caps that I ordered arrived and turned out really well and will make up one of the pieces that I’m going to show at the exhibition in a week and a bit’s time. I’m planning to display them hanging from the wall in two rows of six, simulating the layout of a jury in a court room, coming back to the idea of the 12 caps simulating the 12 jurors; with the internet and twitter in particular being a place of judgement. These are now a finished piece, ready to be displayed. I need to think of a name for this work, something that incorporates the idea of judgement and being judged alongside acknowledging that the internet is becoming monitored and policed, not unlike a prison, where every word is being scrutinised and broken down.

Another work that was ‘completed’ this week was All My Messages. A work that manifests itself as a website containing all of my Facebook messages ever, available to be read and downloaded by anyone and everyone. Although I intend to create a physical manifestation of this, be it the grave creation idea of last week, or a new idea that I had this week to laser cut the various messages onto metal, and then layer them until the text is no longer legible, I think that putting them all online is kind of mandatory for the work and for the issues that I’m attempting to discuss; surveillance on the internet alongside the question of who actually owns our data, where it’s kept and who is allowed to look at it. The book that I was reading last week, Delete, talked about this a lot, mentioning that our data is effectively scrubbed clean after a 9-month period, where companies are allowed to access said anonymised data through a paywall. I think I need to continue to work with this over the summer so that I can do the mass of data justice, rather than simply taking the first step in an Evan Roth esque way of dumping all of my data somewhere. You can see the finished work on my website here: http://www.bobbicknell-knight.com/#/all-my-messages/ or go directly to the website in question here: www.all-my-messages.com
It would also be interesting to consider selling my data, and that becoming a thing, but that may be too similar to a work by Owen Mundy titled Commodify.us, a web application that allows Facebook users to sell their data.
I’ve also been slowly working on a new video piece that looks at how video games are a source of escapism for many in this world. It’s gone through various iterations in the past week, and is slowly becoming a thing. As of now I’ve been using water as a motif within the work, using various clips from video games where the player character is swimming under the water, fully submersed in the digital environment. This part of the video charts the evolution of water in 3D video games, from Super Mario 64 to Uncharted 4. These videos are layered up, taking into account that each new game will have learnt from the previous games water creation method.

The double backdrop to the video is a series of pirate ships, slowly being engulfed by virtual water as the video continues on. The is in a simulation like space, with clean walls and basic visuals, making the viewer aware that it’s all a simulation, with subtle hints of truth, the pirate ships being one of these truths, or lies. The pirate ships are there to discuss the misinterpretations that people have about pirates in popular culture; that it was an exciting career where you could escape to the open sea. Of course this isn’t true, so over the course of the video the ships are pushed around by large amounts of water in the ‘white cube’ space. So this part of the video is questioning whether or not seeing video games as escapism is a good or a bad thing, and whether or not they’re actually good for you, as well as the preconceptions that people have about video games people inherently false and simulated.

This is brought up in the third part of the video, which is a series of images which flash up on the screen of people slumped over their desks or computer screens, close up images of their faces and hands. Most of the images are stock photographs of people, but mixed within the false images are two very real pictures of dead people who have died from playing various video games upwards of 50 hours. This comes back to the idea of the public’s perception of video games in general, as well as whether or not video games as escapism is a good thing or not. So within the piece there’s a lot of conflated ideas alongside subtle lies, mixing a slowed down soundscape of waves crashing subtly against a beach with a lot of false imagery which seems to have an agenda but may in fact not.

I also thought about including text within the work, to either tell a fictitious story created from internet chatrooms about someone who got completely immersed in a particular video game or the song lyrics from Buckner & Garcia’s Goin' Berzerk, a song inspired by the first video game to have apparently ‘killed’ someone in 1981. I’m currently deciding whether or not to include the text or not, alongside a few other things.

These are two test pieces, one with text and one without:

With Text
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8zwtZDe8k3Y
Without Text
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gekNrDbxCTU
I think that the eventual name for the piece will be Everything Bad is Good for You, the title of Steven Johnson’s book which looks at how video games and television are making society as a whole, smarter. I’ll wait and see what progression I make with it during the week ahead during the lead up to the exhibition next Wednesday. I’ve also been thinking about how to display the work within the space and have slowly drifted towards the idea of displaying it in the toilet; a space of contemplation and somewhere to escape to. It would also be a lot more interesting to display the piece within the toilet, rather than simply on a wall. I think I need to think about it a little more, but for now that’s one of my ideas. I could also put the tv in the window, or near the window of the space, considering the obvious ideas of day dreaming mixed with escapism. Either way, both ideas are using the space rather than simply leaning my tv against a wall.
Oh and this is the event page for the exhibition if anyone reading this is interested in coming: https://www.facebook.com/events/254933741536869/ During this week’s meeting we talked more about space, as well as the name. Cxx was decided upon, with xxx corresponding to 30 in roman numerals alongside having the c at the beginning to reference when you’re writing a text to someone and you accidentally type ‘c’ instead of ‘x’. I think it’s actually a really good name; saying farewell to first year as well as containing the main ‘theme’ for the show; that all the works been made in the past 30 days. I’m quite excited for the show, how it will all look as well as what the other people have been making. It’ll also mark the end of my first year, which is both depressing and exciting.
Work with John has slowed down a fair amount now, with the video game basically completed my work is kind of done by this point. It’s both distressing and slightly like a great weight has been shifted from my shoulders; it’s been really interesting to take a peek into how it will be for me in two years or so, but in reality is this something that I want to have seen at the end of my first year? Who knows, although it’s definitely made this last term a lot busier and a lot more interesting than it would have been. The painting of John’s space occurred this week too, which went fairly well; it’s a really good space with lots of room to appreciate the work.

I’m unsure if any other new work was created this week as I’ve mostly been using my time to see friends that won’t be seen when I return to Suffolk alongside catching up on a fair amount of films that I’ve been missing. I’ve also wanted to go to more exhibitions, but weirdly haven’t. I have a list that continues to grow which is saved as ‘Exhibitions to see before I leave’ which will be looked into in the coming days.

We did have a lecture about what second year would be like, with the first term being given over to experimentation within our various practices. I’m sure this will be a fun term, reinitiating myself back into living in London as well as just the general feeling of being in second year, nearly half way through my degree. That is only slightly worrying…

I did get to see Eva and Franco Mattes giving a talk at the Photographers Gallery which was very exciting, as part of the lead up to their show at Carroll Fletcher next week. It was a very interesting talk, but instead of learning new information it was like regurgitating all of the information that I was already aware of and had been researching for however many months. So although it was interesting to listen and consider what they were saying in relation to their work, I didn’t really learn anything new. Zach Blas was also there, recycling a previous talk that I’d already watched online, yet again slightly disappointing.
I’m actually starting to realise that I didn’t go to any exhibitions this week, which is very weird. I’ve definitely slowly stopped going to them this term, whether it’s because of the amount of work that I’ve had to undergo or because of general laziness, I’m unsure. This will have to be rectified in the next week, as the week after that is filled with essay crits and the various exhibition private views.

Oh actually I did go to the exhibition that I was in titled PHOTOPLAY #2, it was fun to see my work on display and took a few pictures of the event; very expensive beer though.
I’ve watched a few films this week, attempting to get back into the film watching of previous terms. The first film being Paper Towns, basically a ‘a poor man’s’ version of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I liked it, the acting was good and the meaning that was being shoved down my throat was heartfelt, but it wasn’t as good as it could have been, resulting in turning into just another movie about growing up.
I decided to catch up with a few of the Marvel films, a behemoth of a franchise that is pretty much inescapable at the moment. I watched Captain America: The Winter Solider and Captain America: Civil War. Both solid films, fun for all the family, but still solid films that are enjoyable within their own right.
I then proceeded to watch Ant Man, which was also fairly okay. It’s one of those things that you can just go to if you’re looking to be mildly satisfied. That makes me up to speed with the current ‘Marvel Cinematic Universe’ film list on Wikipedia. It’s guaranteed fun at this point, which is arguably not that bad of a thing; they’re giving the masses what they want, rarely putting a foot wrong.
Another film that I watched was called Coherence, another ‘not science-fiction, science-fiction film’. The majority of the film takes place over the course of an evening at a dinner party, where space and time slowly break down, opening up multiple different realities for the various guests to indulge in. It has a sort of Shane Carruth mixed with Mike Cahill and Richard Schenkman vibe, but a slightly diluted version, not as great but still good. I’d definitely recommend it if you have seen the films created by the aforementioned directors. If not, then look into the three directors’ portfolios and enjoy.
Perfect Sense was another such film, set in a universe where an epidemic is breaking out, causing peoples’ senses to slowly break down and cease to function. It was actually a fairly good romantic sci-fi, up there with the likes of Mr. Nobody and Safety Not Guaranteed. Yet again, a good film, but not that great compared to the films that probably inspired said film. The final shot is slightly heart-wrenching though, so it may be worth your time.
It was a shame to then watch Predestination, a very dull film, with the only exciting moment being the ending which had a twist that could be seen from a mile away. About half of the film is taken up with a story, a painfully dull story that is not very interesting at all. I expected more from Ethan Hawke.
Gamer, even though I knew it was going to be bad, was still disappointingly bad. The set design was ‘imagine a world 30 years from now cranked up to 11’, an aesthetic that everyone is tired of at this point. Although it was made in 2009, it’s still unfortunate how boring the whole thing is. I just felt that I had to watch it for its content, immediately regretting the decision as the credits rolled down the screen.
Mr. Peabody & Sherman was just plain fun, including an interesting power dynamic between the dog and his son, ultimately I simply enjoyed the experience for what it was. Although the world building wasn’t as good as Zootopia, the jokes were funny and the story continued onwards at a fine pace.
Pleasantville was very weird, but maybe in a good way; a brother and sister being transported into a 1950s sitcom. Slowly as the film continues the siblings begin to colour the show by telling the inhabitants of Pleasantville about various things that are available in the real world, but not in the television programme, from books to sexual intercourse. It was actually kind of interesting in an obvious way.
The final film was Big Fish, a Tim Burton affair featuring fantastical characters and Ewan McGregor once again. I kind of liked it, but ultimately there wasn’t enough of something, something malleable, something real. It all felt like a fantasy, rather than a reality within the world that was being created in front of me.
I continue to gorge myself on That ‘70s Show, as the show goes on I find myself assimilating with the characters, even though the show is inherently sexist; due in part to the time period that it’s set in. It’s an interesting way to ‘get away with’ being sexist in tv or cinema, simply having your creation set in the 70s or any earlier time period; a distressing thought.
Oh and week 6 is live on isthisit? with work from Rosie Abbey and Emily Webb. I’m quite proud of this week’s selection, being the first week that the work actually fits well together. Within the two works there are incredible subtleties occurring on screen, with the music from one operating for the other too. I want more weeks to be like this, a flow between the work. Unfortunately, this probably won’t happen until I start receiving mass submissions, which I doubt will happen for a while. http://isthis.wix.com/isthisit
I only have a few things to do this week, a feedback tutorial on Thursday with Andrew that I’m looking forward to and a site visit to Safehouse 1 to finalise people’s spaces on Wednesday. It’s all coming together whilst coming apart at the same time… I also need to finish my water video, finalising on certain things alongside reading essays from my essay feedback group so I can hopefully give some decent feedback during the crit next Monday. I think this week will hopefully be branded as exhibition week which I thoroughly look forward to, an ending similar to the beginning of the year, going to many exhibitions alone coming back to a solitary room; depressing but interesting to think about…

Enjoi.

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