Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Final Game - Hopeless

For our final project, my group decided to design a game based on the factors of homelessness. We gave roles to each member, and I for the most part was a part of the graphics team with Mason and Allie. I was put in charge of all the characters and character designs. I also helped with the bibliography, give input to the level graphics Mason made, helped Allie with problems concerning the movement sprites, and helped Mason to assign certain facts to objects in the game. The game itself represents a good sense of futility in the situation. Even if you can get past the security guard and steal the suit, even if you get to the employer, you still lose since you as a character have no job experience. I think that ending works to hit home on a point both concerning the situations of homeless veterans as well as the government. Everyone helped to make this such a great working game with fun graphics and great coding.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Artist Lecture - Terry Marshall

Sometime in the last few months, I was able to go see Terry Marshall’s lecture on Afro-futurism. The topic in itself is a very unique one to be heard in a lecture, and I was quite pleased with the new change of subject when it came to watching artist lectures. I always have held a strong interest in the cultural arts and social justice in our modern time.

The first things he spoke about when he talked about inspiration brought back some heavy nostalgia factors for me. I have always been an X-MEN fan and Storm has been in my list of favorite superheroes since I was little. When Terry explained why he thought Storm was such an inspirational character, being a strong, black, female leader in a time of discrimination, I completely understood and agreed with what he said. His interpretation of the backstory of the African American race mirroring a science fiction story made sense as well. Finally, I agreed with the factor of aesthetics being the draw-in for the first meeting of anything you come across.

His concerns were totally valid as well. When it came to social problems in our government system like healthcare, there were plenty of stories yet no direct action for change or social justice. Terry needed to gather together young people as “young invincibles” in campaigns and make a clear culture and story for the center of organizing these campaigns. He’s done a ton of things even when he was in college, and he is a very moving activist. He’s done projects like the Black Body Survival Guide which is a sarcastic remark on how African Americans should act when coming near a police officer. He also went to the Occupy SL event in St. Louis College to peacefully protest the police attacks that had happened in the South. He worked with other groups such as Black Eye Collective and We Are The Ones.

Overall, it’s inspiring to hear and see of how much he has done to try and help further increase social justice and Afro-futurism. It seems like he is very dedicated to speaking out against the police officers who have beaten and committed wrong acts against other people. Hearing about his story of how he was chased by a police officer gave a better understanding of his mindset, and I could understand despite having family who are police officers. He’s a very inspirational man.

Artist Lecture - One Year Performance 1980-1981

Last month, I went to the Sheppard Gallery to see the exhibition that held Tehching Hseih’s one year performance piece that took place from 1980-1981. The one year performance piece consisted of Hsieh dressing up and punching in a time clock at the beginning of every hour for a whole year. That means he punched in at the time clock twenty four times a day for three hundred and fifty six days. The feat to keep up such a methodical routine every day for a year is extremely astounding to say the least. 

It was stated that Hseih missed about one hundred eighty three times. When I heard that, I was highly impressed. I cannot blame anyone for missing that many times, and I would have actually thought he had missed a bit more. I also could appreciate what he said before about his tradition to shave his head in the very beginning of his performance pieces. That feat in itself acted as a good marker of time. In the beginning, he was clean shaven in face and head, and he looked so haggard by the end of the pictures. I think one of the best parts about being in the exhibition was trying to find those pictures that were different even slightly than the rest. I kept focusing on the times in the pictures and the slightest differences in the background or Hseih himself. It actually felt like a very legitimate find when I’d find such a picture since, compared to the others, it would stand out so much more which drew my attention. 

The posters that talked about Hseih’s performance pieces were quite interesting as well. For one, the pictures were in black and white creating a very old style photograph feeling to me. Of course, there were posters on his other pieces, but the ones talking about the 1980-1981 pieces were by far the most interesting. The use of the projector to show the looping pictures was a nice touch too for those who would rather not look at three walls almost entirely covered in pictures.

Overall, the exhibition was one of the most impactful for me. In a small town like Reno, I never expected to be able to get the chance to see such a big name artist talk or show his work in the university. The experience itself was worth more than words could tell.

Artist Lecture - Clint Sleeper

I have seen and listened to a lecture by Clint Sleeper the year before in Brett Van Hoesen’s class and found his work to be quite intriguing. However, this lecture I went to earlier on in the year was by far much more interesting. I got to hear much more about his works and the messages he placed with them.

The most interesting part of his lecture was hearing about the themes he placed in store for a lot of his artistic works. Clint aimed for the themes of disappointment, optimism, and telling a joke. Most interesting of those themes was his theme on disappointment and how he broke it down. He believed there were two parts of disappointment in his philosophy: government and religion. Furthermore, he responded to this disappointment in both an optimistic manner and a gruesome manner. Just hearing about how much thought he held in his artistic themes and practices was so inspiring as I myself am still searching for the themes my art stands by even if I know a couple. 

I also thought his art practice itself was quite fascinating, and I enjoyed the fact that he used his art practice to make music. His first piece he showed was a performance piece where he used lemons on a small keyboard he had circuit bended to make these strange and obnoxious sounds. I could see how that piece focused on his views on disappointment well as I feel there’s always a certain degree of disappointment when your piece does not go your way. My favorite piece that he showed to the audience was the Midi Televisions he made. To see televisions being shown to make a musical score was by far so original and creative, and I feel like it had a very optimistic note to it. It was interesting to hear the story of how the Midi Televisions became an interactive installation for 4 days that was associated with disappointment and misery. I could definitely see myself getting a bit annoyed with how the audience reacted if that had been my piece to work with.

Overall, the lecture itself was extremely interesting to listen to and inspirational in how art can be themed and shown. I also felt like I learned and understood a bit more about the mindset of Clint after looking at this lecture, hearing his explanations, and seeing his pieces of the past. It’s something I will think on while thinking of my own art practice in the future.

Artist Exhibition - Emancipating Jane

The last artist exhibition I saw in the university was a MFA exhibition by Priscilla Varner. The exhibition was called Emancipating Jane, and Varner wanted to show sex workers in Reno and Carson City in a more casual light and control their representation to how they saw fit with self-authored, vernacular photography. She wanted to veer away from the normal objectifications of sex workers and artistic views of them in brothels.

I thought this was a very interesting exhibit to see. Each wall held one or two different collections of photographs from a different sex worker in Reno and Las Vegas. The pictures themselves did not really portray them as the stereotypical sex worker in a brothel but instead showed them in a more every day light. Some pictures showed them on hikes; others showed their house and collections of makeup or shoes. There were one or two photos in all of the collections that seemed to veer towards the artistic sex worker angle when it came to certain pieces of furniture in the houses, but the pictures seemed so casual for the most part. These sex workers were shown as normal people like anyone else who work at a much different profession than the rest. That was the message I saw in the collections I looked at and it spoke out really strongly.

Another interesting thing Varner decided to place in the middle room of the exhibition was a table and a bookshelf full of books talking about sex workers and brothels. I thought this was a nice touch to accentuate the point she was making through her photographs. I also thought this added a good touch of interactivity in the exhibition. People were welcome to sit down, read a book, and look at the pictures. I’m sure that Varner was aiming for the audience to do some comparison of the books and the pictures she showed. It was a very clever move she made with that addition.

Overall, I think that this exhibition was very intriguing to look at in itself. I definitely took my time examining each collection of photographs on the wall. I can appreciate Varner’s work since she chose to hone in on a topic that no one really talks about. I think that brings a truly challenging goal, but she managed to make her message to the audience very clear in my opinion.