MEDA302 Critical Reflection.

Fooled you with that last post;
Here’s my final blog post for uni.
A critical reflection upon my work, which I ended up titling ~Focus~.

What is it?
The work is a screen based interactive projection. It involves two phases:
The first is a Processing code which generates a timer. This timer is surrounded by a circle, and as the timer ticks on, every ten seconds the circle flashes from grey to red. After sixty seconds, the second phase begins. This consists of a slideshow of various memes, sourced both from the internet and made personally by myself. These internet memes cycle around every five seconds.

Situated in front of the projector screen is a plinth with a computer mouse on it. If the mouse is clicked while in phase one, it resets the unseen counter on the slideshow trigger. However, if pressed during the slideshow in phase two, it will trigger back to phase one.

Why?
The idea behind this project is time. During the iteration process it occurred to me just how much time we as a society waste on seemingly meaningless tasks, like looking at internet memes, playing video games, watching Youtube videos, etc. I desired to elicit a response which made people think about how they spend their time by making them constantly need to click the mouse to focus in on the timer and stop themselves from being distracted by the memes.

The timer itself had a deeper meaning as well. The flashes every ten seconds were indicative of the amount of people who die from vaccine preventable diseases, being roughly one every ten seconds.

Reception.
It became quickly apparent that the message was unfortunately not apparent. Despite positive feedback from previous iterations, the final work seemed to not fall into line with what I had previously produced. Viewers seemed bored by it, and even after reading the statement they did not entirely grasp why certain aspects were used to represent what they were meant to.

Overall, the project was received poorly. Suggestions were made to the format (i.e. not having the work projected) as well as the presentation method needing to be cleaner and more crisp.
A reworking was suggested for the final grad show, in which I will be trialing the work as a smaller screen work, involving the laptop as the screen and utilising more iconography to encourage interaction, rather than words.

Summary
Despite what I believed was a fairly strong and thought provoking theme and topic, it appears that my execution of this projected screen work was not up to par. Going forward, I will try to make it more crisp in its presentation, as well as making the thematic elements more apparent, hopefully not relying too heavily on exposition from the artist statement.

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MEDA302 Wk13: Crunchiest time, and goodbye.

So this marks the start of the end of my blog posts, as well as my UOW schooling. I probably wont be back for a masters, or another degree any time soon. But that’s just a sentiment. That’s not what this blog post is about.

Here it is! The last time I’ll formally write about this project until I print that cute little placard that sits next to it.

So, this week I set up my projector, plynth and ‘puter* (*Laptop. I needed another P word) and demonstrated how my work will work, and got some lovely feedback from my peers. I’ve decided upon a computer mouse as my trigger, after consulting the internet and discovering that big red buttons are approx. $50. I don’t have that kind of money, so my mouse shall suffice! MVP, anyone?
So, the timer starts, and after a minute, the memes also start. If you click, the memes disappear, and the timer greets you again, but another, invisible timer starts ticking, and that’s the “show memes again” timer. Every time you click, there’s not visual response, but that 60 second timer is re set.

What I noticed was peers would click the button as prompted (“Click to Focus” is what the mouse reads) and the be like “Oooh! Something happened!”. They’d then click again, to no response. Click a few more times, still nothing, get bored and move on.
That’s when those malicious memes strike again.

The message here is that we are so interested in something important when we first see it. But then, we get used to it.
not to dampen the mood, but the very recent Las Vegas shooting reminded me of this.
I saw outcries to gun control. I read as people poured out their hearts talking about how to survive these atrocious acts.

And then I saw jokes about it.
I saw people forget about it.
I saw another mass shooting…

I still believe youtube prank videos are dumb. I still believe memes are stupid, and distract us from reality.
And I’m really hoping that my work makes us think about how we use our time. Do we waste it? Do we become so apathetic that we laugh at mass shooting jokes?

I dunno. I’m not sure if my work is going to impact the world.

But it’s definitely impacted me, and honestly, that’s more than I though I’d ever get out of an art project.

 

Thank you.

P.s. Here’s my code that’s been borrowed from a bunch of places, and slightly changed. Enjoy!

PFont font;
String time = “000”;
int initialTime;
int interval = 1000;
int fontSize;

void setup()
{
size(3000, 2080);
fontSize = 400;
font = createFont(“Arial”, fontSize);
background(255);
fill(0);
smooth();
noStroke();
textFont(font);
initialTime = millis();
}

void draw()
{
background(255);

// if current time minus lastStored bigger than interval
if (millis() – initialTime > interval){

// increment time as an int and back to string again
time = nf(int(time) + 1, 3);

// reset counter
initialTime = millis();
}

// just cosmetic using the counter …
if (int(time) % 10 != 0) {
fill(210);
}else{
fill(170, 100, 100);
}

ellipse(width/2, height/2, 1200, 1200);

fill(255);
ellipse(width/2, height/2, 1000, 1000);

 

//display time
fill(0);
text(time, width/2 – textWidth(time)/2, height/2 + fontSize/2.8 );
}

MEDA302 Wk12: Crunchier Time!

So this week I was able to have my work be projected for the first time! Good timing, considering we have one week left after this.

It looked awesome on the big screen, although I had to use my laptop as the trigger. I’m thinking of buying a big red button to press, and having the memes come up as a screen saver. You have to press the big red button to get rid of the distractions and see the timer, giving you the information of how many people have died of preventable diseases since the timer started.

Discussing this with Mat, we found it interesting how obsequious the timer aspect is. It doesn’t have any specific origin point, it’s simply from when I press go. And yet, people are still dying. That impact is something I’ve tried to have apparent, as the counter is still counting, even when the screensaver is on.

And yes, I know, I should maybe kill the darling which is memes. Is it necessary that it be memes which distract from the timer? No. But I needed something, and I had spent a lot of time with them. These darlings get to stay.

So my to do list before next week:
1. Find a big red button, or somthing that’ll work as it.
2. Make more memes!

MEDA302 Wk11: Crunch Time.

I’m trying really hard to iterate, and also do the rest of my uni subjects. This weeks critical reflection is going to be about how time management sometimes means you don’t work on the projects you want to work on. Like, for example, i’d love to continue using photoshop to create memes as set pieces for my “distraction” portion of my project.

However, I must also use this time to prepare my presentation on Mukbang and edit my video on Mongolian Beef.

What I’m trying to say is, this week wasn’t great. What should I do next week? Let’s make a list:
1. Meme creation
2. Refine that code.
3. Figure out how to setup is going to work. Motion sensors? A phone on a plynth with an Instagram feed, that shows the timer on a projector every time you scroll? Something like that.

MEDA302 Wk10: You tha real MVP!

This week was one of the most frustrating. I spent about three hours trying to get a freaking code to work in processing, and it just barely does kind of what I want it to. It’s going to work, but in a different way, slightly. Ah well, as we learnt this week, kill your darlings!

But on that train of through, we also discussed creating a MVP. No, we’re not electing the best in the class to represent us. We’re talking about a minimal viable product. What is the bare minimum project that we can make which still meets all (read: Most) of the goals that we want for our product at the end. We need to kill our darlings; Those little, cute ideas that we think are really cool, but are holding our works back from the potential to shine and causing it instead to look like a jumbled mess of small cool ideas, instead of one powerful message.

This, for me is difficult. Everywhere I look I see inspiration and think “Yes! I could incorporate that into my work!”
The same thing happens when I plan Dungeons and Dragons sessions. I listen to podcasts, talk to my friends and get so many ideas, but I need to remember that a story and campaign works better when it is focused and prepared well, not spread thin over a bunch of little details. Don’t get me wrong; Little details are awesome, and can add flair, but I think that’s only when they meld well with the main focus.

As such, I’ve pulled the plug on my videos. They were fun, but ultimately I feel they distract too heavily from the message I want, and they’re also harder to fit into my MVP. Sorry videos. You’ll live forever in my hard drive, and uploaded to the Unlisted section of my Youtube channel.

MEDA302 Wk7…8…& 9: How’s the project going?

So we continue to iterate. And iterate. But was I actually accomplishing anything?

Well, I actually had a breakthrough on the last hour on week 9. The previous two weeks were simply research and the creation of political memes. I had gotten a bit sick of seeing Trump post about some seemingly unimportant things, and also the game of “Who’s Nuclear missile phallus is bigger?” between he and Kim Jong Un.

I was also getting a little sick of things a bit closer to home, like how conditions on detention centers seems to only be getting worse, and care seems to be getting smaller and smaller.

It made me think; Do the dumb little memes I’m making make a statement more than “You’re dumb!”? And the answer, unfortunately was a “Yeah, uh… Probably not.”

So what do I do about this? Do I keep going down the meme road, and just make political statements, but credit them to the Philosoraptor?

Philosoraptor 14112017014442

So I decided instead that research would be important. Making a statement beyond memes. But what? Sure, memes are dumb, but what do we do with that information? And does it effect us at all?

 

That’s when I had my breakthrough. I did a quick google, and spent an hour looking at mortality rates. One really stuck out to me. “Deaths from preventable diseases.”

I did a bunch of maths which lead me to a really sobering statistic.
Approximately every ten seconds, someone dies from a vaccine-preventable disease.

What? Every ten seconds! and it’s preventable!!! It actually blew my mind that it’s so preventable.
And so, next week the plan is to somehow find a way of representing that.

MEDA302 Wk6: I made a meme. *Sigh*

So this week, we presented a little bit of what we’ve been working on.
I’ve been making a dirty, filthy meme. A prank video, even. Though it’s more of a prank on the viewers than on someone else. But still, how I have sunken.

On my last post I spoke about my influences, and how they make excellent content, and in my first post I was talking about how prank videos take away from the feel that content creators on the internet should have…

It feels like a bit of a sell out, but to be honest, it was fun to make. It was fun to edit, and film, and then it was fun to watch peoples reactions as they realised what was going on.

I also really enjoyed seeing it next to other peoples works (although, it didn’t look as great as I wanted it to. Damn you, Qumi! Changing my aspect ratio that I worked so hard on)
It had a nice juxtaposition being next to some of the other artworks, like Meg’s glass paintings. Both were art that people had worked hard to produce, yet they had completely different aesthetics and meanings. The contrast was exactly what I had hoped for, and this wasn’t lost on my audience either.

And yet, despite all these positives, it still felt a little bit like selling out. Yes people enjoyed my work, but what did it all mean? Was it just funny to see a Youtube (or well, it was better formatted for Facebook) video in a gallery setting? Maybe that’s all it was. But is that all it should be?

Anyway, here’s the video for anyone interested.