03_F17

October 16, 2017
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Recently, in my work I have been investigating the notion of aesthetics as a vehicle for discussions around difficult topics or discussions with opposing truths which can be hard to negotiate with one another.   I have come to understand that people will absolutely reject ideas that are too far from their personal truths often labeling these other perspectives as lies.  Spectacle and beauty have the ability to draw audiences in and coerce audiences to partake in conversations which may oppose personal beliefs.  The ability to have conversation before rejection is necessary if one wants to convince others of their personal truths especially if their truth is far too different from their audiences’ personal truths.
Mark Taylor discusses how cultural as well as personal beliefs are constantly interacting, responding, and changing to the ideas and views of those within our communities and those new to our communities.  He describes the formation of knowledge as a collaboration of creation and destruction.  We break down old ideas reassembling them with the old to come to new ones.
There were a two things which stood out to me about his assessment of knowledge and those within society with this knowledge.  On pg.202 he writes that ‘Those who are too rigid to fit into a rapidly changing world become obsolete or are driven beyond the edge of chaos to destruction’.  On pg. 214 he writes that ‘As interpretive schemata change to adapt to each other, they eventually reach the tipping point where new comprehensive patterns suddenly emerge.  Such patterns survive only a long as they fit experience.’  I found there to be interesting conflict in these two statements.  Taylor suggests that those in a society must continue to change and evolve with the ideas of that society or risk having to leave or be forced out of the community.  On the other side of that, he suggests that ideas which are too far from the experiences or truths of society will also become obsolete and be pushed aside.   To me it sounds like there is a fine balance between knowledge, society, new ideas, and the individual perspective.  In order for change to happen, we must find a balance and a common ground from which we can share perspectives and grow together.  I wonder where Taylor would place the idea of aesthetics as a vehicle for communicating new ideas within this conversation of knowing.
For growth and change, no idea can be too radical, and no idea should be too conservative.  We want to push society forward at a good pace, but we don’t want there to be fear or rejection because we are moving at a pace that is uncomfortable or alarming. With technology today, however, the rate at which are changing is exponential to our momentum yesterday.  Day by day we may be reaching a more universal truth and I wonder if progress will slow and eventually plateau once we get there?
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Avatar DownloadMe

September 25, 2017
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This week I used a photogrammetry platform called PhotoscanPro to make a 3D model of may face.  I uploaded the file to SketchFab for anyone to download for free.  I made no ads nor any announcements of the opportunity.

I had to make a few photogrammetry models.  The final was 1 of 4 attempts to make a recognizable visage.  The best model was made from images of me wearing a red cap.  I will upload this file for people to download as well.

 

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Personal Truth

September 25, 2017
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In 3 minutes what would I say to 100,000 people?  To be honest, I don’t know….   In my life, I have had the privilege to speak the way I feel and I have had an even greater privilege to sometimes be heard.  Furthermore, I struggled with the delivery for this project because whether or not I have anything of interest to say, it is the way I say it which is equally if not more important.  A pedantic speech on why I’m more enlightened compared to those I’m speaking to would be embarrassing and shameful use of a priceless 3 minutes.

After some consideration, I decided I would give the stage to the mother of Jojo Striker, Shanda Striker.  Jojo Striker was a transgender woman who was the victim of a hate crime and was fatally shot in the torso in February of this year in Toledo, Ohio.  For my 3 minutes, Shanda Striker would be allowed to say or do whatever she would like to do.  I would request that she speak about Jojo, their relationship, and reflect on her experience after losing her daughter.  I would also ask Shanda to take a moment of silence for Jojo and other victims of similar hate crimes.  I’m still not sure of the setting of the memorial service.  Would all 100,000 be present or remotely attentive?  I need more time to think it through.

Shanda Striker is one of many mothers I could have chosen.  If I could, I would invite more mothers who have experienced similar violence on their loved ones.  My truth is that too many people are without voice.  My 3 minutes is an attempt to give voice and bring to light those without either.  For every hate crime a family is left broken.  Some crimes are given attention while most are ignored.  Even if covered by the news, the humanity of these individuals is lost and their families fail to be acknowledge.  I would hope that the three minutes could be used for spiritual healing and to spark compassion in the captivated audience.  It would be an optimistic gesture with deep respect.

Please look up Jojo Striker, I have left images of her and her family off of my post out of respect.

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Thoughts on Understanding Media

September 25, 2017
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Something about McLuhan’s ideas really resonated with me as an artist and as a creator.  There was a utopic optimism in his words directed at artists and the purpose of their work.  I don’t know if what he said can be applied to all creative thinkers and artist types, but I do agree that there is a role for artists to question and to be critical off media, culture, and what can be called the common discourse.  He wrote: “No society has ever known enough about its actions to have developed immunity to its new extensions or technologies. Today we have begun to sense that art may be able to provide such immunity.”  I would agree with this sentiment and gesture to artists, that it is their responsibility to be critical of new technology and the affect of new media on the society who uses it.  I would also probably extend that the artists’ role is not limited to only questioning new media, but also the content and ethics around media and the role it plays in driving people and their ideas.  I would hope that for all artists, their work is a gesture to motivate society in a more positive direction for the betterment of society and the civilians within that society.
I did struggle, and have struggled at ITP, with one provocation. McLuhan says that, “(e)lectric technology is directly related to our central nervous systems, so it is ridiculous to talk of “what the public wants” played over its own nerves. This question would be like asking people what sort of sights and sounds they would prefer around them in an urban metropolis! Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left. Leasing our eyes and ears and nerves to commercial interests is like handing over the common speech to a private corporation, or like giving the earth’s atmosphere to a company as a monopoly.”
Although I agree with his sentiments.  I do find that commercial art and design is capable of appealing to larger groups through popular aesthetics.  I wonder how aesthetics can be used to target larger audiences with less popular sometimes antagonistic ideas.  I liked this quote which McLuhan includes from Bernard Lam’s The Art of Speaking.  He quotes, “A Discourse cannot be pleasant to the Hearer that is not easie to the Speaker; nor can it be easily pronounced unless it be heard with delight.”  The notion that aesthetics as a vehicle can offer more to the digestion of an idea than the idea alone is something I would like to continue to explore.  How can an idea which maybe adverse to popular thought be delivered in a way that is pleasing and more tempting to swallow?
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Avatar Playhouse

September 18, 2017
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MakeHuman is an open source avatar generation tool which provides a lot of flexibility as far as physical attribute manipulation.  The platform allows you to distort physical features with simple scales, similar to Adobe Fuse.  When modeling, the avatar features can easily become grotesquely comical.  Although the platform is very flexible, it is hard to match personal characteristics and attributes with the given tools.  The base models and attribute choices for manipulation are all very generalized and fail to pick up on the nuances of personal features and diversity.  For example, gender is placed on a slider binary of male to female, where as race is placed on 3 sliders of African, Asian, and Caucasian features and fails to pick up on minority groups within the continental regions.  The realistic nature of the avatars do not work in the platform’s favor.  The characters developed are repulsive and make me feel uneasy because of their visceral uncanniness.  As far as user experience, the flexibility and variety is far too overwhelming to work with.  I became frustrated with the ease to which I could manipulate because I was never able to get it quite right.  It was flexible, but not flexible enough.

The South Park Avatar Creator, on the other hand, allows you to pick from a variety of  simple pre-made attributes.  For instance, skin color is limited to 6 shades. The success of the avatar creator tool is that it is limiting.  Characters made here are comical and resemble the flat paper-like characters found in the South Park show.  The cartoony quality is successful because we don’t become frustrated with the details or with it’s likeliness to ourselves.  We can add character in other ways, such as slapping on some fairy wings.  It is us but it isn’t us at the same time.  We may not look physically the same, but we can express our personalities much more.

That is where the two avatar creation tools differ.  The MakeHuman avatar was too close for comfort and lacked expression.  The South Park avatar looked nothing like me, but exhibited more of my personal interests (even with its limited choices).  MakeHuman as a platform is geared towards VR gaming use for the purpose of creating realistic environments and characters.  South Park is also for the use of games, but the game play is intentionally cartoonish and carefree.

 

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