Learning to love you exists as a of 70 assignments created by artists Harrell Fletcher, Miranda July and Yuri Ono given to the general public. The members of the public then return the material they have generated from these assignments back to the artists. They are then collected and displayed online and as a changing series of presentations taking to a number of different locations.
This collective provides quite a unifying experience and prompts a re-connection with a level of humanity that loses its way in perhaps a world of technologically enhanced individualism and artificial reality. The acts are quite poetic and beautiful, and the use of the internet as a platform for this work is interesting. It demonstrates collaboration and draws people into connecting with reality, it highlights and encourages tenderness and enjoyment, silliness and love, this is quite a contrast to the works I have been looking at so far – those addressing the alienation, individualism and separation that comes from a life involved closely in the ‘excess’ of internet.
Assignment #1: Make a child’s outfit in an adult size.
Assignment #39: Take a picture of your parents kissing
Assignment #54: Draw the news
As well as considering the capacity for collaboration a more sensitive and ‘human’ side present within the vastness of the internet. This work has been helping me to understand the artists role in collaborative work. I consider the work I am producing at the moment as collaborative, I am collecting and working with unsuspecting and unknown contributors – those who have published material on the internet, and attempting to draw it together to answer and address central questions to the nature of life within a digital society. The artists in the ‘learning to love you’ collaborative act as prompters through the choice of assignments, collectors and curators of the materials they receive in return. I see this idea feeding into my own practice.
I have created a few digital images from some of the answers that I generated from my interactions with people on Omegle. I thought it would be interesting to invest these flippant answers with the craft of embroidery in order to replicate the old embroidered sayings that would be used as decorations in the home. My first set of experiments have been done in photoshop, I don’t know whether to try out these designs as actual physical stitch patterns. I am also still unsure as to how far I want to take this particular idea.
Considering Eliza, the artificial psychotherapist, I have began to consider the development of interfaces that allow us to create a more ‘human’ feel to technology. Particularly considering the text to speech tools and use of ‘avatars’ to create the illusion of humanity.
I put the google text pieces that I have generated through one of these text to speech tools to explore how this would change our relationship with them. I then explored these audio files clipped together with videos from Youtube relating to the text (I typed the text back into Youtube and collected the videos linked in with this).
This is quite an experimental video, I think parts of it work. I particularly like the question and answer sort of feel that occurs at the start of the video, between the guy in the video clip and the synthesized voice. This is a detail that I think might be interesting to develop – generating conversational pieces between archived materials and this digitalised voice.
I found out about the computer program ‘Eliza’ from watching the documentary Hypernormalization.
(See blog post: https://rebeccadavies16.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/hypernormalisation/)
Eliza was developed by Joseph Wizenbaum between 1964 and 1966, it is an example of artificial intelligence, it is a computer simulation parodying the ‘repetition’ methods of psychotherapist Carl Rogers. Eliza offers an online psychotherapy session, and answers your problems by basically mimicking what you say in the form of a question.
What Wizenbaum found with Eliza, was that despite her users knowing that this was a computer program and was completely unaware of what was going on – they still became engrossed by it and really opened up.
One user commented “After all, the computer doesn’t burn out, look down on you, or try to have sex with you“.
In the documentary, it is noted that what Eliza demonstrates is that in an age of individualism, a reflection of the self through simulation is what was most comforting. This can also be seen in the later development of the idea of ‘intelligent agents’ that monitored the internet behaviour of users and from it could generate what they would want to see in the future. Generating a ‘safe bubble’ that could protect you from any irrelevant or opposing information , directing you down a self indulgent path of interest.
In the documentary this idea is summarised:
“In an age of anxious individualism, frightened of the future, that was reassuring – just like Eliza. A safe bubble that could protect you from the complexities of the world outside.”
As an initial experiment into the vulnerability of digital images to manipulation, I began to explore the distortion and fragmentation of stills from archived video footage. I don’t think the the work is particularly effective, but I was interested in people’s reactions to it. Most people who saw them automatically connected them with pornography and obscenity. This made me consider the link between obscenity and the internet – how digital technologies offer a platform for the transmission of this sort of material.
However, considering this alongside Baudrillard’s writing ‘The Ecstasy of Communication’, it could be argued that the excessive amount of obscene material transmitted so readily and accessed so freely and casually actually changes the nature of ‘obscenity’.
“The hot, sexual obscenity of former times is succeeded by the cold and communicational, contactual and motivational obscenity of today. The former clearly implied a type of promiscuity, but it was organic, like the body’s viscera, or again like objects piled up and accumulated in a private universe, or like all that is not spoken, teeming in the silence of repression. Unlike this organic, visceral, carnal promiscuity, the promiscuity that reigns over the communication networks is one of superficial saturation, of an incessant solicitation, of an extermination of interstitial and protective spaces.”
This may be an idea that I pick up again at some point in the future.
Following a discussion with my tutors, I’ve started to consider how I could bring my practice into 3D experimentation – this is my first (pretty rough) attempt to explore this. I was considering the 2D work I have done with ‘nature’ textures, and also thinking about Tom Piper’s work. I am interested in the synthesis of natural textures in particular as they seem to be most opposed to digitalised ‘flatness’. By bringing these artificial shapes and textures into a three dimensional space (although I suppose in the model they are presented quite two-dimensionally), I want to explore this physical and digital relationship.
The second image is an accidental Photoshop edit that occurred when I attempted to remove the background of the photograph, but I thought it was a really interesting almost ‘reclaiming’ of the 3D form back into digital. This is something I will move forward to experimenting with, is bringing the 3D work that I intend on doing back into the editing software where the textures were first generated. Further extending this investigation into digital 2D and physical 3D.space.