Reading Responses 1 – 4


I did not purchase the course text, and because of this I might have reacted to the prescribed readings somewhat differently from a member of the class with the physical pages. I did however find most all of the content online, and hopefully some of my thoughts will run parallel with the discussion of the blog.


1. Class Discussion, Impressions and Introductions


Speaking in groups about the first reading, what stood out to me most was the thought of experimentation with new forms of technology as creative media, and the slow revelation in which we may observe a technological instrument leading to a definition of purpose towards a project being made. How sometimes it can be somewhat ambiguous what the overwhelming creative action or medium actually was/is when you view it (or try it). Current work that is not exclusively made by a kind of “short trip” hand-to-material process can certainly be more sophisticated and mysterious in origin. Though I suppose persons and people, with their hands, did event each step of what has eventually became digital media or the existence of creative devices. The history of film comes to mind. How we have invented and then learned to use the camera centuries ago, uncovering its’ possibilities, it’s weaknesses, what we might do to actualize our vision or narrative – the creative deliberation that composes Time Based Media as a course, in exploring devices that can aid us to a certain extent, and to which.


2. Micro-lectures, Revised History and Performance


I viewed Peggy Gale’s “micro-lecture” in video format. Who I assume is Peggy herself speaks directly addressing the camera, with a slowly animated background of a shifting crowd, fitting the visual description of the time and people she speaks of.

The concept of titling this thought as a “lecture” strikes me as odd – until I realize that it is actually a history lesson. Not unlike a great deal of the history lessons we receive and will continue to receive as students of “creative education”  – revised with the addition of female content, or in this case, content of greater detail. One of my first days spend in the lecture hall/auditorium at our school, a professor made a note of mentioning that the current volume of the course text was quite good because it actually had a bunch of women in it(paraphrasing).

That being said, I quite enjoyed watching Peggy Gale recant the early days of “suffrage”.  The exact details of this “movement” were not as clear to me until viewing this.  My history of these events were perhaps “revised” by Peggy Gale, erasing the imprint of Canadian “Heritage Moment” shorts about Nellie Mclung “storming the castle”, by performance, but overwhelmingly light-hearted in nature.

I was pleased to hear of the level of aggression in the protest techniques that were used. I also enjoy contrarianism, on a few different levels. There was a clear sense of responsibility that Peggy felt the need to communicate, and made a “spectacle” of herself as she advises, or hopes for.  The format and delivery are intense and not at all unclear, as performance tends to be. Using your own more exclusively as an instrument itself is an incredibly courageous act, and is arguably one of the most emphatic and instantly understandable or reactionary.  It is difficult therefore to not see it as under-rated as a medium for more forceful, grand, “ultimate gesture” type illustrations of an idea, feeling, voice, etc.

The Leslie Hill article also refers to performance by people or things captured, though instead of traditional story telling alone, there is a combination of story telling and videography, exploring things that we know well and also what we do not necessarily know well. Although Leslie challenges the question asking if intimacy breeds obscurity, I don’t believe that really any of the artists discussed would agree with that fully, and neither do I. However I might allow an exception for viewers who choose to remain spectators, in the sense that they actively reject the message attempting delivery.


3. Cracked Barthes, Acting on Imagination and Content


Reading Gill Branston’s cracked Barthes, I found it humorous to read an admittance of inaccessibility in experiencing semiotics, especially after reading countless straight-laced pages of content for Critical Frameworks, the first year course. It is constructed as a code, and made complicated or specific by an exclusive way of speaking, and forms a part of what we discussed to be “art speak”.  Rules of semiotics seem to stimulate mostly by their indirect descriptions of less tangible behaviors. The creation of schools of thought relative to semiotics provides us with tools made of words – encouraging and defining an action of perception. Heck, perception as multiple actions, particular actions that we choose/don’t choose/are/are not native to us specifically for different methods and situations to try to or even automatically absorb something(s). It is useful then, in a sense, to make a big deal out of it.  Whew.

Lev Manovich’s article seems to speak of humans interacting with technology and getting ahead of themselves, before they realize what they’ve been able to accomplish, and then having trouble understanding what “it “ is, or even what they’ve done or are doing. The inter-related image that is unique to particular techniques advanced over time is a poignant comment, especially in terms of the early computer game referenced, “Myst”. My father and brother played this game on our Atari that we had at home, and I remember the sensory experience as being cool toned and strangely vast, slow and quiet, requiring patience and a kind of psychological engagement much different than modern-made “gamer” entertainment.

Is it also not strange that some of the most virtually and technically complex and bizarre industries, say, film, animation and gaming, make and put out such extreme amounts of money? Maybe just animation, as the article seems to clearly define as mostly taking over the former “crafts”.  Ultimately I think that the ability to bring to life anything you could possible imagine, somewhat like the clip of we watched of Frankenstein’s “god”, is both beautiful and disturbing. The most popular form of content that we support in “entertainment” is a bit like having created a monster. The creation of sculpture and installation, however, for me, seems to utilize this belief to a more weighted (and sometimes more compassionate) physical entity.


4. Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t


“They [the artists that work with technological systems] have to get somebody as a progenitor so as not to look as though they invent it all by themselves. Makes a better package. But technology: art will be sunk or drowned by technology”, says Marcel Duchamp.

We seem to love the idea of hybridity, in the sense of human becoming machine and vice-versa. Perhaps this is because we view technological composition as immaculate, much like our own bodies, but with less complication due to emotional or hormonal/chemical influences. There is a sense of betrayal that exists in both entities separately, and maybe together they really are “ultimate”.

“If you don’t accept technology, you better go to another place because no place here is safe… no one wants to paint rotten oranges anymore”, says Robert Rauschenberg in 1967.

Down with hands and up with machine instruments. Don’t you know that there are things that can do that for you? Don’t waste your time conditioning your body to achieve things, that’s archaic. One cannot discount the population of individuals who choose to buck this trend, however the pressure to adapt to perpetually growing technological intelligence doth build. When many landmarks devices were invented it seemed prudent to experience and utilize them. However many devices are still being invented as this sentence is read – they root in the intent of early technology – and seem to change mostly in accessibility. This is good and bad. Techniques of “intermedia” employed by people such as John Cage are challenging, and of course, participatory – modern use of sound sight and even touch seem to be increasingly personal and even hedonistic. Intermedia is true “public art” in the leadership shift from maker to viewer, Happenings as being composed of the presence of many individuals and not just one.  This produces an experience, possibly in some way profound – possibly not. Though the possibilities do seem endless.