Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Reading #6 Questions

1. The author gives a lot of comparisons to digital media now and digital designs of the past. What are some other examples of fast yet older technology besides cinema?

2. The author states the truth of the degradation and loss of information in digital images and the use of "lossy compression" can show the amount of information lost in an image or video. Do you think this situation will last for awhile or pass quickly?

Artist Lecture - Clairissa Stephens

On April 24th in the Jot Travis, Clairissa Stephens presented a discussion and lecture on her masters of art exhibition as well as her love of land art. Displaying both works that would be shown in her exhibition and works of years past, she spoke about the driving forces of each piece and her inspirations as well. Unlike artists like Erika Harrsch, Stephens held a more simple approach and meaning to her works. She meant for each piece to be a new treasure in her travels, and she used them as newfound pieces of a map she herself made.

Clairissa held a vast love for discovering new things and mapping out unknown territory. In fact, she loved finding new treasures in her quests and hikes. 40.6159. -115.3987 was a clear example of this as it is a map of Thomas Canyon drawn on maple wood with silverpoint holding bighorn sheep wool in a container. Dated on the exact location it was found, the wool was a true treasure found for Clairissa when she and her husband could find no bighorn sheep in the canyon. I can relate very closely to this feeling and experience. I have been on many hiking and camping trips in my life, and I tend to take a small treasure home with almost every expedition. 40.6159. -115.3987 is a statement to the unexpected things we make find in a journey. Stephens loved looking at the change in an ecosystem and contours in spaces. Her work, Memory Map: High Rock Canyon, envelopes the truth that a map is never truly accurate in its content. The piece is presented on 14” by 20” embossed paper which holds a soft and comfortable touch. The embossed paper can be shifted and changed giving the impression that our memory can make a map of what we see, but it is flawed by our perceptions and time span. The world continues to change, and personally I loved this ideal she hit with her work.

Stephens held a great love for the changes in an ecosystem in aspect to light and color quietly over time, and she found even the most minor things to hold extreme significance. Her 2012 piece Aspens is a perfect example of a presentation of change in light and color. She made the trees out of organza and thread in order to give the impression of a quiet and soft movement in the trees. Furthermore, she used the materials to give the trees a sense of illumination. This is very astounding since it must have felt like you were in the woods themselves with the sense of tranquility it brought. Her most recent work, Crystal Peak Horizon Line, focuses on the horizon line that makes the relationship between the sky and the mountains for those of us who watch it. It uses quartz tied with string to make the line, and it gives an interesting view in that the sky is now the positive space as it is hung. Crystal Peak Horizon Line also reinforces that feeling of treasures in a hunt as every piece of quartz was taken from the location they stand in the horizon line. Stephens showed to be such a deep thinker in her pieces as well as creative in the way she exhibited them.

Overall, I quite enjoyed Clairissa’s lecture over her art. Land art was a new topic to me since I had only recently read about it in contemporary art, but I must say that she is a wonderful example of a land artist. Her reasons for her works really reached out to me since I myself have had many outdoors exhibitions and similar experiences as a child. It was almost like I was reliving memories from her words, and I greatly enjoyed the nostalgia that came with it. I do not find myself changed by her work, but I do find a part of myself revived by it. Her work was very inspiring, and I am very glad for going to both the lecture and the opening of her exhibition.

Artist Exhibition - Phyllis Shafer

        At the Nevada Museum of Art, I was able to see and look at every piece in Phyllis Shafer’s exhibition named I only went for a walk.... Based off of the expedition and regionalist art of naturalist John Muir, every piece of art is a fun mixture of abstract and realistic regionalist landscapes. One of my favorite paintings was Lily Lake (2005).

One thing to comment Phyllis Shafer on in her artwork is her extroadinary use of line and movement in her paintings. Almost nothing in her paintings is completely stagnant. You can feel the movement of the grass in the painting as well as the movement of the water in the rivers and lakes. You can even trace the movement of the wind and clouds in some of her paintings. This is all due to her careful work with painting gesture lines onto her subjects. These lines also give the subject a sense of rhythm and harmony within. For example, some of the rocks, trees, and mountains are painted this way in a few of her paintings. When I see this, I feel as if there is a never ending connection between the powerful forces of nature.

Another thing to compliment Shafer on is her use of color. Her color scheme sticks true to the image she looks at when she is painting, yet Shafer also cleverly pays attention to contrast, lighting, and hue in her paintings. Grass in particular is a fun example to go by. With grass, Shafer goes from using different hues and tints of the color to create a sense of light and shadow to using analogous colors to portray the same thing. She also takes note in using complimentary colors to define good contrast.
Personally, my favorite thing about Phyllis Shafer’s art pieces is her switch from realistic to abstract painting. A lot of Phyllis Shafer’s works are very abstract in design through her use of coloring contour lines. It seems realistic yet looks like something from a cartoon. Overall, Phyllis Shafer is an amazing artist with a talent unlike any other I have seen.

Art Lecture - Erika Harrsch

       Earlier in February, Erika Harrsh presented her work in an artist lecture in the Knowledge Center. Showing each work she had presented in exhibitions, she explained her reasons and inspirations for each piece. The butterfly, the monarch butterfly especially, inspires her in every piece she creates as it stands as a symbol of life, death, change, and indigenous culture. Erika Harrsh also bases her works off of powerful themes such as identity, migration, materialism, and music.

This artist showed a true creativity in her approach to certain powerful themes of her art pieces. For example, her first piece, Imagos, were Photoshopped pictures of butterflies from around the world. There is a subtle difference however; the center body of the butterfly has been replaced with different pictures of female genitalia. It never truly showed until you looked at it for some time therefore showing her cleverness in the collage. Once the truth was revealed, her theme of identity became so much more powerful. One of her most creative pieces was her United Nations of North American Passport. The amount of research she took time to gather certainly showed in the final product. Her passport is almost identical to a normal passport, and she creatively combined the symbols of all three North American countries to create her concept of a passport for one combined nation. The factor that truly touched me was her willingness to go out and make a fake passport stand in different countries. The stories she had to tell from each hit home for me. Erika Harrsch’s theme for this passport was migration, and her journey from country to country made it stand out all the more.

        Her attention to detail and the complimentary factor of sound to art astounded me. By far, her most interesting piece was the Erika Harrsch LED Cello. The amount of work she placed into making each sound have their own piece of art accompany it on the LED screen amazed me so much. The art and animation shown on the LED screen varied from analogous to complimentary colors in order to create good contrast. The art itself was one very well placed collage. In my mind, Erika Harrsh created a dual purpose: giving a beautiful visual concept to the sound of the cello and giving her artwork a sound to have it transcend to affect more senses. 

         Overall, her visions behind the works as well as her works themselves made her lecture far more enjoyable than I had originally expected.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Artist Paper - Human Race Machine and Web of Life

      In the growing age of digital media, there are many different types of digital artists that have grown to create outstanding pieces for the world to see. Some of these pieces hold a meaning and moral for the world to understand; others, a personal reflection for themselves. Nancy Burson and Helene Kippert are two digital media artists with different approaches to a similar general goal: gaining a bigger understanding and reflection of ourselves as individuals.

Nancy Burson is a photo manipulator that has been working on many diverse projects and designs since the 1980s with one of her most famous being the Human Race Machine. Having been first made for the Millennium Dome in London in 2000, the Human Race Machine became very popular to the public, and more were made around the Unites States specifically in colleges and universities. The process of the Human Race Machine is easy to follow with some help. The Human Race Machine first takes a headshot of the person in the booth. From there on, the person can toggle with the features of the headshot and figure out what they would look like as another race. There are 6 races to pick from: White/Caucasian, African, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Hispanic. As years went by, new features came into play in the machines as well. For example, people could see how they would look with certain disorders. A person can also see how they might look in a few decades, and Nancy Burson has had much experience in manipulating a photograph to mess with their future age. The Human Race Machine plays with the concept of race as a genetic factor rather than a social factor.

Helene Kippert is both a fractal digital artist and a mixed media artist in Western California. Fractal art is a strange and unique kind of art where an artist used mathematical formulas to make the fractal objects displayed in the image resulted. The most common form of a fractal is a spiral. However, Kippert doesn’t take the common approached with her work and instead decides to create more abstract and original designs. She uses this as a form of self expression for her own thoughts and reflection coming to be known mainly for her fractal art. With every piece she makes, she adds in a poem as a description to express her thoughts while making the piece. Only a few of her pieces have been shown in exhibitions and magazines some being due to coming to be a finalist in some contests. One of these pieces is “Web of life”. Made in 2009, it was one of Kippert’s art pieces to be published and made as postcards in Australia. Like many of Kippert’s fractal art pieces, “Web of life” holds an outstanding form and energy to it. In her description of “Web of life,” Kippert adds a poem by Rumi with the strongest line being, “You breathe, and new shapes appear.” (“Web of Life by Helene”) The work itself truly looks like a web of boundless, bouncing energy with streams and spirals of energy flowing through it as well.

Both The Human Race Machine and “Web of life” hold a value to a sense of connection to one another. Though people divide themselves by different means, there is an overall connection between every person that makes everyone the same. The Human Race Machine does a brilliant job in defining this within its meaning as it means to have people think deeper about themselves. Race is truly a social standard not a genetic case; in all honesty, we are genetically all 99.999% alike (“Human Race Machine”). It aimed to dispel stereotypes about races and speak out to say that we are all the same in the inside although we may be different on the outside. People who sat in the booth and played around with their features had a lot to think about after as even their own race may not have fit in with the stereotypical look. It asks the real question of who we are and the true connection between us all as people. “Web of life” conveys this connection in a more hidden and subtle way. As Kippert says, this world and everything in it, including ourselves, are surrounded in an invisible sea of energy (“Artist Statement”). People are connected to not just each other but the natural world as well through this energy, and Kippert uses fractal art as a means to give this energy a visible form and life. “Web of life” plays with the idea of that energy that gives form and breath to every life in the world whether it be the world itself, the plants, the animals, or the people. The work of art stretches out its web, entangles everything in its many strands, latches to every place in the world, and lets its energy flow and stream through every natural form in the world. Both works hold an important value to a deeper understanding of ourselves, and they use lighting to help them in conveying this message.

The form and aspect of light is an important part of both the Human Race Machine and “Web of life”. As a creation of photography still, lighting plays as an important aspect of The Human Race Machine particularly since it helps to show the face and all of the face’s features along with it. Too dim of lighting or too bright and the camera can’t pick up all the features of the face. It works within the standards of photography; the lighting has to be set just right in order to get the best results for the headshot that appears. Without the lighting, the Human Race Machine would never be so effective in its approach and meaning. Lighting in “Web of life” held both a similar and different approach. The light in “Web of life” helps to give the work of art the feeling of its boundless energy. With its different, ever-changing, vibrant colors, the differences in light in areas help give the lines a sense of almost child-like energy and life. The light is strongest in the areas where a multitude of strands touch which, in a way, could signify a stronger energy in the connection of different lives in the world. The web itself in the center that courses throughout the piece is well lit as well as if to give a bright sense of light to the world. 

There are many differences between Burson’s Human Race Machine and Kippert’s “Web of life”. To begin, the approaches Nancy Burson and Helene Kippert took to each of their works almost reaches to opposite planes. The Human Race Machine is pretty straightforward and realistic in its design. The method is simple: enter the booth, take a headshot, and experiment with the settings to see differences in appearance. It is meant as an interactive process for anyone in the public to go and try out. On the other hand, “Web of life” is a simple design and digital piece of artwork. There is no interactive play for the audience to take a part in, and the work itself is heavily abstract. Though both pieces leave the public to think deeper on the topic, “Web of life” works like many abstract designs. To each individual that sees it, they see something different and think more deeply on the hidden meaning behind the work itself. Also, the level of popularity between the two is massively different. The Human Race Machine is well known in both the United States and Great Britain. There are booths in museums, universities, and colleges that people can walk to and try out. It has even been featured and used on shows like Oprah. There are also volunteers who show others how the machine works and help them understand and go through the process. “Web of life” is in the opposite area. Although it has been published, it is not known at all in the United States and is now used as a postcard in Australia. Finally, the general audience differed for each work. The Human Race Machine is meant for the general public with an emphasis towards students. On the contrary, “Web of life” was more geared towards Kippert herself as a means of personal reflection and awakening.

Overall, The Human Race Machine and “Web of life” are two great examples of the difference in digital media. The Human Race Machine, meant for more educational purposes and awareness, gives the public a very interactive and fun experience in discovering a little more interesting information on ourselves as people. “Web of life”, a statement to personal reflection and connection, gives people a new and unique type of art that comes alive in its vibrant colors and boundless energy. By all means, these two pieces are extreme opposites in approach, but they share a similar goal in display a higher connection to ourselves in life. Unfortunately, neither of these artists contacted back as to their own words on the matter.

Works Cited

"Human Race Machine." Nancy Burson RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <>.

"Publications and Exhibitions." Fractal Worlds: Energy Art for the New Earth. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <>.

"Web of Life by Helene." Redbubble. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <>.

"Artist Statement." Fractal Worlds: Energy Art for the New Earth. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <>.

"Skin Deep." N.p., 16 Feb. 2006. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <>.

"SEATTLE FRACTALS DIGITAL ART." What Are Fractals? Northwest Web Designers, n.d. Web. 26 Apr. 2014. <>.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Interventional Media Project - Monsanto

For my project on interventionist media, I chose to revise the Monsanto corporation site. Thanks to my mom, I do know of Monsanto in the agriculture area and its wide history of things such as consistent herbicides and pesticides, law suits against many other farmers, and GMO's. I have never quite been comfortable with them; in fact, I don't agree with some of their tactics. I grew up and am a person who prefers organic, non-GMO products. Monsanto, after much research, stood out to me as quite an evil corporation. From the constant bullying to other farmers around the country and world to their suspicious secrecy, this corporation stands for lots of ideals I am completely against.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rita Raley Questions

1. What do you suppose Rita Raley is trying to say when she calls tactical media a "performance"? After all, a performance can go into a multitude of things. What rules do you think tactical media would uphold in order to it to be a successful "performance"?

2. Who uses the receiving end of the tactic in tactical media?