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Reaction/reflections to Inta(llation)gram…

The class liked it, Tom was very critical. Par for the course.

The idea of how the project is curated was a hot topic of discussion. Obviously, with the installation taking place through an app, anyone can post anything to it (provided I ever got it to work the way I wanted it to). The notion that people would inevitable abuse the platform was brought up. After all, trolls will be trolls. 

On the one hand, this is an intriguing proposition. Sure, people are supposed to post pictures of artwork from other galleries/museums, but posting something else can reveal just as much about the audience and the notion of art itself. It could be exciting. But, Tom also pointed out that if it go out of control, it could end up devaluing the installation. Good point.

My goal was to be as hands off as a curator as possible. But, to maintain the integrity of the piece, I’d have to exercise some measure of control as a moderator of the page. We’re still co-curators but I, as the artist, retain ultimate censorial control. This is a little troubling to me as part of the idea is to take the creation of the piece as much out of the artist’s hands as possible, but I recognize the concerns. 

So, how do I do that?

Additionally, before this could ever hang in a gallery, it’d have to be scaled up to how I originally imagined it. So, it’d have to be a bigger screen and I’d have to figure out a way to get the screen layout how I want it. Clearly I can’t work within the actual Instagram app. So, what do I do? Develop a website for it? Or, an idea I like, develop my own app for it.

But, with an app, how do I distinguish between installations? How is the time bracketed? If it exists as an app that anyone can access at any time, what is the point of putting it in a gallery? Yes, the notion that people always have an art gallery in their pocket is interesting. But, as I’ve written before, that’s what Google images does too. I wouldn’t be breaking any new ground except to maybe get people to look at the process in a different way. 

But, the whole concept of the performance was that the piece has to exist in a gallery, as it’s partly a commentary on the gallery space. So, how to do this?

I had an idea after discussion of my piece was over. Basically, develop the basic architecture of an app, and then create different versions of the app for different installations.

I drew a small version in my notepad…

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See it there, in the middle?

Each app version can be for a specific installation. Users would submit their pictures to me, and I would control which ones get posted. These posts would appear in the app, but they’d also appear in the gallery installation. And at the end of the installation, I’d simply stop updating an app. So, there’d be an archive of the installation within the app, but it would cease to exist in the realms of a gallery. Eventually, users would have a full archive of this work within their smart phones (and archived online). A work they co-curated. But, the problem of the time limits of an installation would be solved…somewhat.

This still gives me, the artist, a little too much control, in my opinion. So, I’m still working on how best to pursue this project. One idea is that different installations can have different themes, and some could allow for the free flow of posting. I specifically thought of calling one Troll and seeing what happens when internet ‘trolls’ take over a public art space. It could be interesting. And it’d certainly reveal something about humanity. 

 

Anyway, finishing up…

This class was outstanding. It’s the exact kind of class I came to UT Dallas to take. It’s the exact kind of training and work I’ve wanted. And now I look forward to further developing this aspect of my art. 

And moving forward, now that I’ve finally posted stuff in the blog, I’ll start using it regularly. I’ll use it to share random musings, write actual articles, and document my work moving forward. That work comprises theater/performance, writing, filmmaking, and installation work, for now. I’m excited about where things are moving with my art right now. And this blog is a good way to keep that going and create an archive.

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Insta(llation)gram (the final project)…

Putting together my final installation was challenging. 

At first, I tried to find a screen to fit a cool, ornate empty farm I have that usually hangs outside the front door of my apartment. It’s 27″ diagonally, so I was looking for a 26″-28″ screen. No go. I didn’t have one, nor could I find one that was affordable, in the context of a project for a class. Plus, I’m not sure the people who run the Art Barn would like me mounting a screen on their wall. Nor did I really have a way to mount a heavy screen. 

So, I went with my second option. Use my iPad. I bought a simple, cheap 8×10 frame, and set about mounting the iPad within…

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I had to try several different things…

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One of the problems I came across was the actual orientation of the screen. Instagram, as it turns out, is only an app for smart phones. There isn’t a tablet app. So, I scoured the app store looking for another photo sharing app that might work. No go. I couldn’t find anything worthwhile. But, I could pull up Instagram in my browser, so I decided to go with that. 

Only now the problem was that the way Instagram displays pictures is not really conducive to the conception of the project. I figured there might be a slideshow type mode that gave the actual image most of the screen space. But, there isn’t. Instead, like most social media feeds, there’s a column on the side to display poster information and a space below each picture for captions and tags. 

I worked on figuring out a work around for awhile, to no avail. Running out of time, I decided I would just have to go with the current setup and explain the ideal, which is a full frame picture that features poster/tag/caption information in a small box on the bottom of the screen in its own box over the picture (see notepad). 

Another problem I ran up against was that Instagram, either in the app or the website, didn’t automatically refresh/update. So, the notion of a continuous feed of pictures was dashed. For the presentation, the screen has to be touchable (not behind glass) and I have to hit the refresh button while continuing to explain the bigger concept. 

It’s not perfect, but I like where it’s going and should be okay for the presentation…

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And here’s the final product, posted in the gallery space…

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Art in the Age of Digital Reproduction (my final installation project)…

Some very basic notes…

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Tom seemed ornery yesterday. And I get it. There have been frustrating moments for him in this class. This is a department that, though it offers an area of study that purports to be all about the arts (Aesthetics Studies) it doesn’t actually attract a lot of artists, real, wannabe, or otherwise. So, there are people in the class who are new to these concepts and sometimes present ideas that seem to miss the point, or don’t seem very well thought out. Of course, listen to me talking down to other people when it’s actually a major fear of mine. Like I’ve written, my thought process is largely internal. Sometimes it looks like I’ve thought hard about something, while other times it doesn’t. I always do, but perception…

Class did not start out great for me. Having had what I thought was my final project made invalid, I was searching for something new while most other people were adapting something they’d already done for a previous assignment. Not to paint myself as some sort of victim, but nevertheless…

I went into class with several ideas. I didn’t feel great about any of them. I decided to go with the whole first thought, best though thing and present the one I came up with first. 

The concept…

I’ve really gotten back into reading the work of Walter Benjamin, especially his seminal essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. I followed this thread to John Berger’s book/series Ways of Seeing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pDE4VX_9Kk).

By requiring that our projects take place within the confines of a gallery space, I decided to analyze the gallery space in a way that considers my observations throughout the class that challenge the idea of the social scripts that go along with placing art in a defined artistic space. We’ve been taught throughout this class to challenge the classic notion of this space and go for site specific stuff (a la Kaprow), yet now we have to operate in the space.

So, I challenged myself to think about a question I once posed asking how do we use the existing artistic space in a way that gets the audience to unconsciously react to its contents in a way that remove them from being defined by the space. 

Then I took this notion that mechanical and technological reproduction of images has led to the dilution of meaning and the lessening importance of the artistic space. In other words, I’ve seen the Mona Lisa a thousand times, but I’ve never been to the Louvre and seen it with my own eyes. The necessity to do that is negated by the fact that I can simply google an image of it and look at it from my phone.

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So, why not subvert the notion of the lessening importance of the artistic space via technological reproduction by technologically reproducing art in an artistic space. 

My idea is to place a screen in a gallery, bordered by a traditional ornate painting frame, that via an instagram type interface, people can digitally post pictures of art from other galleries to. This would have this Jean Baudrillard type simulation effect that all at once comments on the digital reproducibility of art and images and at the same time gets people to treat the artistic space in a natural, different way. Additionally, the audience become co-curators, co-creators of the installation. 

As usual, class discussion and feedback really helped flesh this out. I went in with a fairly basic concept, and the very constructive discussion made it clearer. Again, I think this speaks to all the noise in my head. Everything I want to say about it and want it to be is in there, but it takes others helping me to focus to fully vocalize it. 

Also as usual, the class seemed more enthused than Tom. Again, I get the feeling I’ll someday be considered the best of the posers…

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