Detournement

My response to the activity assigned for reading week (week 5) is a new set of instructions, more precisely a recipe to get to feel what someone else felt before, which is expressed in a pice of art — My Bed, by Tracey Emin, 1998.

Recipes normally instruct you how to do things in a kitchen, step by step, starting off with a list of ingredients that are necessary to reach the final result, using a set of tools and machinery. Art creation processes work in quite different way because no one is actually guiding the artist to create its piece. However, there is also a process that happens in a certain space and requires different materials and mediums and in that way it can be quite relatable to a cookery set of instructions. Also, a food recipe doesn’t have to — or it shouldn’t at least — include constraints to one’s creativity, allowing instead the process to flow naturally and creatively.

For this activity I created a set of instructions that aimed to reach a result that resembles to the bed Emin has presented as Her bed in a time of depression, intense sexual activity and lack of apetite. As ingredients I’ve used the objects that we can see in the installation, and the process was an attempt to recreate the path towards depression and how it seems to become a routine that is hard to break. The bed is an extremely personal space and this piece clearly expresses the moment the artist has gone through.

As when you make a roast, you start off by preparing a container for the main ingredient, where you’re gonna toss in all the other bits and pieces in the list. During the cooking process you need to observe and use your other senses to work out whether it needs more cooking time, more seasoning and depression is really a similar process. You look at yourself, you add to your routine things that you wouldn’t in a normal circumstance in order to improve your state of mind (being that in a positive or negative way). You look at yourself and you try to do something to feel better, you eventually require other people to help you feeling better, more desirable, less lonely. The pregnancy test is quite curious here because it’s a type of equipment you use to test, as when you probe in the kitchen to test if something is cooked. Same for condoms, that have the same function of foil or cling film in kitchen.

 

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Research methodologies

The 6th CTS session started with a brief introduction to basic concepts related to researching— the difference between Qualitative and Quantitative research and wether we should use one or another  was clarified, as well as the difference between the words method and methodology. As examples of a qualitative approach there are ethnography, anthropology or practice as research, and what all of these have in common is the use of empirical materials. When we use a qualitative approach to the subject of matter we are interpreting it in its own context and that may include the meanings people give to it (influence of culture and personal experience), all the history it has been subjected to, and even the way we interact with it. On the other hand, quantitative research is more focused in concrete and objective values such as statistics obtained through polls or questionnaires. Can both methodologies be combined? The answer is yes. To obtain data about a subject, a quantitative approach might be quicker yet efficient. However, a human touch to interpret the outcomes of our research and more easily contextualize them can also be helpful.

After discussing the difference between these two methodologies, we addressed the importance of researching: why do we do research? what’s the process of my research? what types of research are there? The answer to the latter is complex once the type of research we do depends on a lot of factors (e.g. the knowledge about a subject prior to researching). The second part of the session we addressed the fields of Ethnography, Phenomenology, Practice as Research, among others. The session was finished with an individual activity consisting in filling an asset map considering the Time brief and the type of research we would need to do for it, the methodology that would best suit our needs and the priorities in our research.

The Infinite Mix: Contemporary Sound and Image

In the brutalist office block 180 The Strand is an offsite exhibition commissioned by The Hayward Gallery dedicated to moving image and sound and their relationship. The Infinite Mix pleases us with 10 immersive video installations aiming to prove that music and video, sound and image face no boundaries in between.

The journey starts with a video projection of ordinary people crossing an intersection in New York. What they all have in common is a certain mobility impairment and the rhythmic way they walk make them look as if they were dancing to the pop bright song that’s played together with the video. We’re then invited to walk through the raw industrial corridors of the building and stop to see and listen to the poet John Giorno compassionately thanking everyone for nothing on his 70th birthday. We find ourselves surrounded by four video projections of the poet wearing black and white clothes that alternate in a high contrast perfectly synchronized video.

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Much less staged yet still intimate is the double projected portrait of the real life in an African-American neighbourhood in L.A. through some homemade videos and a hit by the local rapper Kendrick Lamar. In a gloomy open floor Maria Callas’ holographic ghost sings in a life-like installation, and Sonic Youth play the soundtrack for a group of black teenagers that dance erotically with furniture in a hallucinogenic footage. It all ends in the car park wearing a pair of 3D specs to dive into a immersive footage of shaking trees and fireworks over Berlin’s olympic stadium.

The Infinite Mix proves that moving image and sound are in fact infinitely relatable. Wether if video is completing an existing sound piece or vice-versa, there will be, at some point, a balance between both. Real or staged, movement will always require and/or produce a certain sound, and that is perfectly expressed on these 10 installations.

Design history and evolution towards contemporary art

Today’s session started with a brief discussion on the book “Design Studies: a reader” as an introduction to a journey through Design history on the 20th century. We firstly looked at the Scottish School style, a pre-Modernism movement focused on decorative arts. The second style we’ve addressed was the Art Nouveau, a movement with which I’m familiarized once I’ve grown in a city with still current evidences of it. Stylized natural shapes and elongated designs are its main characteristics with predominance of metalworks and ceramics. It was the first international style movement and its main concerns were imagination and beauty. We’ve also addressed Modernism, the post-war innovative style concerned with utilitarianism and focused on industrialization and technology. Art Deco and Surrealism were also discussed as they were more focused on the pleasure of living through leisure activities, inspired by imagination, fantasy and aiming to change the perspective of the world through Freud’s and Karl Marx’s theories. By this time, Art was not exclusive for rich people anymore, it was directed to everyone instead, and performative arts started to become popular. The Cold War Design (mid 1970s) was after investing in science and industry. It was a post-WW2 movement interested in lightweight structures and movable cities, and introduced concepts like cyborgs and augmented bodies. The last movement we’ve talked about was the Post-Modernism, which is still current and is characterized by the absence of style nor definition. Art and everyday life don’t face boundaries anymore and react against Modernism, reason and complexity. This anti authoritarian style congregates fine arts, new media, technology, film and performance together to create contemporary art.

We’ve finished the session discussing the main characteristics of Interaction Design Arts and analyzing examples of IDA.

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What is culture?

For the fourth week of CTS we were invited to read the first section from the book “Representation” by Stuart Hall to try to answer the question “What is culture?”. This is certainly a difficult question answer since originally culture would refer to the cultivation of crops. However, in a more traditional vision, culture has to do with improvement and making civilised or “the best that has been thought and said in a society” (Hall, Evans and Nixon, 2013). This traditional definition was associated with the “high” arts — literature, music, painting and philosophy — but its more modern version refers to what is nowadays called mass culture which is basically whatever is distinctive about the way an individual or society live. One of the most interesting conclusions I’ve made after my reading was that in a society or group, “culture depends on its participants interpreting meaningfully what happens and making sense of the world in broadly similar ways” (Hall, Evans and Nixon, 2013).

Representation is an essential part of the process by each meaning is produced and exchanged between members of a culture; it does involve language, signs and images which stand for or represent things.

(Hall, Evans and Nixon, 2013)

After a group discussion about culture and cultural studies and and how it may inform our course, we addressed the analysis of a cultural object. We then discussed different methods of analyzing cultural objects and what should be taken into account for this purpose. In group, each element presented a chosen object (I’ve brought a printed picture of me as a child with me mom taken by my dad in 1995) to be culturally analyzed (e.g. what does it represent? is it high or popular culture?). Our conclusions were then discussed in the class.

 

Bibliography:

Hall, S., Evans, J. and Nixon, S. (2013) Representation. 2nd ed. London: Sage.

What is academic referencing? — the Harvard style

Researching is nowadays easier and quicker than ever since we live in an era in which information travels at high speed (often instantly) and through a wider range of different medium than a couple of decades ago. Rather than going to a library to look up for information in dozens of books, the World Wide Web allows us to find whatever we want more quickly (Terry, 2007); but that can also lead us to plagiarism (using one’s intellectual property as ours). Authorship is a state that anyone can now easily achieve, especially by the social media, and that’s what makes referencing, now more than before, so important.

When someone creates their own written work, it is certainly inspired or based on something that has been previously done and evidence of that inspiration must be present in the text. That allows both the writer and the reader to track the research that has been done, but also it gives credit to all the authors of the sources used— this is probably the main purpose of referencing, amongst proving a deep knowledge of the subject being written about. There are different referencing styles and each of them is commonly applied to a different group of subjects.

The Harvard style, also known as the parenthetical referencing style, is the one that this essay addresses, once it is the one used at the University of the Arts London. Its name comes from the place where it was first used, even without awareness of the creation of a new standardized referencing method: the Harvard University, by the zoologist Edward Laurens Mark. In the decade of 80 of the 20th century, Mark has included a parenthetic in-text author-year citation in his written dissertation and that appears to be the first evidence of this system, which was considered innovative by that time (Chernin, 1998). Referencing, however, has been done inconsistently, since some authors would use asterisks to cite a source or numbers followed by footnotes and many consider that these kind of systems were not good for the reader, once the latter would find their reading process discontinuous— I personally agree with this point a view, once I don’t like to interrupt my reading to check footprint notes, ending up most part of times ignoring the references and waiting for the end of the text to find out the source of a certain citation.

Referencing in an academic context is essential once it makes written essays more credible (Chernin, 1988) and even though it’s still an arguable issue due to all of the different shapes that a certain referencing style can assume, it needs to be done (under each institution requirements) in order to ensure that authorship is kept authentic and no author gets their intellectual piece lost.

 

Bibliography

Chernin, E. (1988) The “Harvard System”: a mystery dispelled. Available at: http://www.uefap.com/writing/referenc/harvard.pdf (Accessed: 19/10/2016).

DrDee (2015) ‘A Quick History of Academic Referencing’, DrDee- Thinking Out Loud, 22/April. Available at: http://drdee-drdeethinkingoutloud.blogspot.co.uk/2015/04/academics-unite-i-think-around-need.html (Accessed: 20/10/2016).

Terry, R. (2007) Plagiarism and Plagiarism Studies. Available at: http://www.english.heacademy.ac.uk/explore/publications/newsletters/newsissue13/terry.htm (Accessed: 20/10/2016).

The University of York (2012) Reference With Confidence – The Harvard Style. Available at: https://www.york.ac.uk/integrity/downloads/15701_Harvard%20Style-webFINAL.pdf (Accessed: 23/10/2016).

UNSW Australia (2013) Why is referencing important?. Available at: https://student.unsw.edu.au/why-referencing-important (Accessed: 22/10/2016).