Video + Sound

Drag Doc: FISH

October 18, 2016
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Instructor: Marina Zurkow  ||  Collaborators: Laura Kerry, Lindsey Piscitell 

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Drag is an art and a craft of transformation.  Drag queens are male performance artists who use makeup, costume, and comedy to create provocative and alluring female caricatures.   As the LGBTQ community becomes assimilated within mainstream culture, drag, a once strictly performative subculture within the gay community, is now becoming something closure to entertainment with iconic celebrity.  However, with mainstream assimilation, drag is often confused with the queer, trans, and gay identities.  Our group wanted to create a short documentary using the transformative craft of drag makeup as a lens for analyzing its purpose in personal identity and social ingenuity.

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Bloodchild’s Egg Incubation

September 20, 2016
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Collaborator: Daniella Garcia ||  Instructor: Marina Zurkow

Inspired by Octavia Butler’s short story “Bloodchild”, this three minute sound piece narrates the creation of the parasitic, alien eggs before their subsequent injection into the human host.  Taken from the perspective of the egg itself, our sound piece illustrates the serene protective nature of the alien species as well as the violent power they possess.  We intended the installation to be room lined and filled with large, human-scaled, egg-like structures which emitted ambient light and produced our sound. Ideally, the participants of the space would feel like they were in a womb or egg cluster.  We used jello, whipped cream, a backscratcher on canvas, a saltmill, oral clicks, an air spray canister, and a DIY contact mic (to record bodily  functions) to make the unique sounds for the piece.  There is also a sampling of a human ultrasound for atmospheric noise.

soundcloudLink || Bloodchild

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Passing Stranger: The East Village Poetry Walk

September 12, 2016
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I thoroughly enjoyed the poetry walk.  One thing that I have always enjoyed about New York City is the feeling of motion and change that never seems to slow.  This city is a city of layers.  The architecture of this city functions as a vertical monument, interspersed and intersecting, mapping history and culture, all the while creating a cacophonous landscape fashion and taste.

What existed before?  Who was around?  What were the interests of the people before me?  What will pop up next?  These are questions I have often asked myself while traversing these streets.  I have only lived here for a little over 8 years now, but I have already seen so much change.  When I attended Columbia University in 2008, the neighborhood of Spanish Harlem was already falling victim to gentrification as university students and faculty had started to overflow into the neighborhood looking for affordable housing.  For the four years that I attended college, the brick towers of the Harlem housing projects, with their innumerable A/C window units, stood adjacent to the elevated subway tracks of the 125th street station 123 line.  When I last visited the intersection of 125th and Broadway, I saw the new Manhattanville project.  On the northwest side of the street, a glass tower stands now.  It is the work of starchitect, Renzo Piano.  On the southeast side of the street, there were still a few project buildings.  That was months ago.  I don’t know what there is now.

The the poetry walk touched on this a bit.  There was  a portion towards the end about Hettie Jones and her life and experiences at 27 Cooper Square, a modest walk-up apartment building.  The poetry walk addressed the importance of the building to the the city’s art movement and its necessary protection from neighborhood developers.   Today, next to 27 Cooper Square stands the relatively new Standard Hotel.  The poetry walk highlighted the congestion and overlap of New York that I have always found delightful.  The walk answered a few of those unanswerable questions I frequently have asked myself about the composite infrastructure of this city.  It seemed to give life and soul to areas of the city which have become dull and dim, drowned out by the brilliance of fresh concrete and twisted steel.

EastVillagePoetryWalk

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On Plagiarism

September 12, 2016
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After reading The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism by Jonathan Lethem, I find myself regretting many personal sentiments I have had as a designer and artist over the past few years.  Simultaneously, I also find myself relieved of the burden to be an original creator and relieved of the guilt ,which I have often felt for being inspired and motivated by the works of artists and thinkers.  My sister, an artist and fashion designer, has always impressed upon me the importance of originality and the necessity to create truly unique ideas.  For a while now, I have found myself stifled by the idea of creating anything that could be described as “new”.  To create your own work is a slow and daunting task.  All too often I find myself without motivation and suffocating under the pressure of work that already exists.  Frequently, I have found myself starting a project and stopping during my initial sketches after realizing my “original” idea was too similar to Such-and-such’s work or not developed far enough away from their ideas.  I don’t think this caution I have felt to avoid making work too close to those that inspire me will, or should dissipate.  In fact, I think this self-awareness as a creator is necessary.  My sister, a referential artist and referential designer, always knows and acknowledges the sources from which she takes and recreates.  Her ability to use a source and truly understand the context from which it was developed before applying it to her own work, is a talent and skill I admire and hope to learn.  Her work in the end is truly original and the sources from which she has taken are imperceptible.

To take blindly from others or only to take at face value is a practice I find occurring with dangerous frequency in today’s age of social media where ideas, work, data, and information are shared and re-shared more quickly than we can digest.  Authorship and creative agency is lost as users share and post without acknowledgement or recognition to the original creator.  This practice of posting and sharing without citation confuses and disillusions consumers who may mistakenly believe the author of the post is the original creator of the work.  Furthermore, consumers  superficially digest work without context, respect, or understanding of the creator’s intent.

There is a fine line between copying and remixing.  The degree of transformation from the copy to its new form is the only way to qualify whether something is truly new.  How do we quantify that degree of change?  This is a question that still has not answer.

Below: A short excerpt from The Ecstasy of Influence: A Plagiarism

“Artists and their surrogates who fall into the trap of seeking recompense for every possible second use end up attacking their own best audience members for the crime of exalting and enshrining their work. The Recording Industry Association of America prosecuting their own record-buying public makes as little sense as the novelists who bristle at autographing used copies of their books for collectors. And artists, or their heirs, who fall into the trap of attacking the collagists and satirists and digital samplers of their work are attacking the next generation of creators for the crime of being influenced, for the crime of responding with the same mixture of intoxication, resentment, lust, and glee that characterizes all artistic successors. By doing so they make the world smaller, betraying what seems to me the primary motivation for participating in the world of culture in the first place: to make the world larger.”

Embrace the Remix, Kirby Ferguson

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