Monday, November 23, 2015

For my final project, I wanted to relate Marshall McLuhan's idea of the "global village" to the world of online gaming. In a way, online games could be considered a visual manifestation of the global village, as games can connect you to thousands of people across the globe at once while emulating and replacing real life interaction using a digital medium. When composing my photos, I particularly focused on the limited tools given to gamers with which they may communicate with other gamers while online. I was interested in how human interaction is defined by game creators and how it is categorized and enacted in different online gaming contexts.

This was the first project where I created everything entirely on the computer using found images and manipulating them in photoshop. It was extremely difficult arranging everything at first because I didn't compose the original images and I lack experience with photoshop. After a while however, I was able to pretty successfully achieve the effects I wanted with most of my final images.
This was one of my favorite pieces to come out of this project. 
Link to images:

Some of the images reference interaction within games while others, such as "Message Not Received" and "Appear Offline" refer to online interactions outside of the games themselves. For those unfamiliar with the symbols and concepts I used, here is a breakdown of what some of them mean:

Emotes: Commands that make the player's avatar express specified actions or emotions (e.g. /dance will make the player's avatar dance)

*symbols are from the game FFXIV: ARR and are not universal

Player Not Found
Player is Busy
Player is AFK(away from keyboard) 
Blacklisted Players

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Preparing for the gallery was both a fun and educational experience. I had never had my work on display in a gallery before, so I was not really sure what to expect from the process. The most challenging task for me was not in the actual setting up of the gallery, but in the preparation and selection of the images. We all had chosen around five images that we felt were the most successful and had to narrow them down to only two images to be displayed in the show. I was struggling to choose between six images that I felt best showcased my concept. Everyone I asked for opinions on which images I should choose all chose different pairings, which only made my task more difficult.

Ultimately this forced me to look at my images in a new light. Instead of simply choosing the two I liked the most aesthetically, I examined the composition of each image and how it related to my other images. What shapes and colors did they create, and how did they play off of each other? What ideas or themes do these images convey and how do they interrelate? Asking myself these questions helped me finally decide which images I wanted to put in the gallery.
The secret 7th contender for the gallery. Ultimately I decided it was
too different to use with my other images.
All of the fussing over which images to use was worth while after the gallery opening. It was a very rewarding experience to watch visitors not only look at my work but tell me that they appreciated and enjoyed it. As a Studio Art major, I appreciate having this experience and feel more prepared to participate in other galleries in the future.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Tim Wetherell's Clockwork Universe sculpture
 at Questacon, Canberra, Australia (2009)
For my presentation, I had the task of discussing Isaac Newton in the context in which he was referenced in Marshall McLuhan’s book The Medium is the Massage. Near the end of the book, McLuhan references the “Newtonian” God and universe, which refers to an analogy attributed to Newton of the clockwork universe. McLuhan states that “The Newtonian God — the God who made a clock-like universe, wound it, and withdrew — died a long time ago.” Astrophysicist Paul Davies in God and the New Physics (1983) aptly explains the analogy:

                “…the universe is like a giant clockwork, unwinding along a rigid, predetermined pathway towards an unalterable final state. The course of every atom is presumed to be legislated and decided in advance, laid down since the beginning of time.”

I believe McLuhan’s intended message in this passage is this: what was previously dubbed as “metaphysical” or “mystical” or “the work of God” can now be observed, explained, and understood due to the development of modern technology. That which was mysterious has now been demystified now that we have the tools to do so. Newton’s views of the universe no longer apply to our modern society as they are based on ideas from the past, from before our modern world existed. No matter how hard we may try to revive his ideas, we cannot. Our ideas are different and our methods of doing have changed from those of the past.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

For project 6, I decided to explore the sounds made while playing video games. I decided to use recordings of myself playing the musical video game "Rhythm Heaven". In this game, you play several rhythm themed mini-games in which you have to keep a beat or follow a rhythmic pattern by tapping the screen in time. I recorded several tracks of only the tapping sound  I made while playing different mini-games. Each recording was surprisingly orderly and cohesive. I then decided to overlay all of the tracks I had recorded, turning what were once cohesive rhythmic lines into a cacophony of hammer-like sounds. Beneath it all is the jingle played after beating a mini-game with a perfect or near perfect score. I hope that I was able to convey my intent to both examine the disconnect between the player's experience and what is happening in the game and poke fun at the music and rhythm video game genre.

Box art for the game I played

This is one example of the types of mini-games I was playing:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

For project 3, I decided do something different from my usual work and themes. While being a gamer is a significant influence in my artwork, this project was meant to focus on another aspect of my identity, namely my being an unnoticed, quiet observer of my environment. I suppose this could be considered what McLuhan thinks to be an antisocial action. I often pay close attention to the details of my surroundings that no one else really notices. To showcase this, I took photos of something few really closely examine or think about: the contents of garbage cans and recycling bins.

This project presented me with many challenges, from taking clear, non-grainy photos with the camera on my phone to figuring out the best way to edit photos of garbage in Photoshop. By contrast, Flickr was a fairly easy tool to use in presenting my photos after I figured out its mechanics. In the end, I was fairly satisfied with my images, though of course changes and improvements could always be made. I'm still a novice when it comes to taking "artistic" photographs and using Photoshop, but perhaps I will be able to better execute my ideas in the future once I improve my skills.

A link to my images:

Of all of the images I took, I felt this one was the most successful.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I found Ed Vessel's field of research to be very interesting, though I had a hard time understanding and internalizing its significance. It's interesting to know what parts of the brain are active and connected when a person is "moved" by a piece of art and has an aesthetic experience. However, other than the information about the brain, the conclusions drawn from the experiments seem obvious. Individuals can share preferences and appreciation for the same image or types of images while simultaneously harboring vastly different opinions about others. These differences of opinion are due to each individual's unique analysis of the meaning of a piece, which is colored by his or her life experiences.  This seems to be at least part of what Ed Vessel is asserting, which for me really just reaffirms what both artists and viewers of art already implicitly understand about how we subjectively perceive images. As Marshall McLuhan said, "We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future." Our past experiences determine and influence what we experience in the present and future. Since no two individuals share the same past, differences in preference driven by semantic content of images should come as no surprise.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

For our second project in New Media in Art, I decided to create a video within the theme of video games (shocker!). I filmed myself as I played the game Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn on my PlayStation 3. The focus of the video is on my hands as they interact with the controller while I play. Though at first I intended to simply explore this interaction between man and the conduit to the virtual world and the discrepancies between reality and the game world, I realized that I had the potential to comment on a larger societal behavior: namely, the recent popularity of watching "Let's Play" videos. For those who don't know, a "Let's Play" video is simply a video of a gamer playing a game, typically made either to function as a guide for players who are stuck at a particular part of a game, or more commonly for the entertainment of others. Such videos always feature a feed of the game and occasionally narration by or a feed of the gamer as they play.

The box art for the game I was playing

I found this recent trend to be fascinating: playing video games themselves can be considered an activity removed from reality. If this is the case, then watching another play a video game is twice removed from reality. What is it that draws so many people to this type of entertainment? What is its appeal? I decided to investigate this in my film.

In the end, my project transformed from a film about pushing buttons on a controller to a full on mock "Let's Play" video. I removed the usual elements of a game feed and narration, leaving the viewer to interact only with the physical act of playing a video game. My hope is that this video will shed some light on how and why we interact with this type of media the way we do.

Below is a link to the video:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Recently I’ve found a lot of inspiration from these pieces.

Ghost sculpture by Michael Whiting

8-bit Pipe sculpture by Aden Hynes

Tetris sculpture by Aden Hynes

Who Is This Alison Person?

I come from a relatively small city in the bay area and am an aspiring artist/designer. By day, I do my best to hack my way through studio classes and critiques, and by night, I’m a dedicated gamer spending inordinate amounts of time hatching Pokémon eggs in hopes of getting a rare colored Pokémon (the chances of which are 1/1365 with no successes thus far) to rub in the face of fellow players. I have a variety of interests from video games to birds, philosophy, music, cartoons, anime, and crime TV shows. Much of my work up to this point has explored some of these interests, with many pieces featuring imagery of feathers, pixels, and silhouettes. Artistically, I am drawn to physical mediums such as oil paint, watercolor, charcoal, yarn and string, though I have always had an interest in adopting the use of digital mediums as well.

I’m still refining who I am as an artist and what my artistic interests and goals are. At the moment, I’m interested in creating a body of work solely focused on video games and the experiences of gamers while playing, both the good and the bad. So expect to see a piece about the frustrations of hatching virtual eggs sometime in the near future.

A Pokémon egg. Both a source of artistic inspiration and deep frustration.