Edek Sher

So, you could enter the delineated space where beauty comes from. The ubiquitous place from which beauty enters our lives outside of Walgreens, enters our homes and our cars and the shelves in our bathrooms. Or, you could take a few steps forward, and then turn left, and present yourself with more illusions of choice.

LA LA LA

Christopher Robbins

In an understandably misguided quest, the futile loops I am interested in exploring are accessible on a more everyday level, as tangible experience.

Rather than point towards otherworldliness, I wish to engage in the alternate experiences (other worlds) that exist right outside habit. Rather than provide a stairway to drown with, I am interested in the motorway loop that brings you nowhere while offering new perspectives, undeniably enhancing your ride.

the dutch boy with his finger in the dyke who has to pee

Liat Berdugo

The department was highly conceptual. Anyone who brought work to critique that used technology for technology’s sake alone was heavily and wearily interrogated. There was no “put-an-LED-on-it” art—that didn’t fly.

The work was quite sculptural at times, and many of us ended up becoming close friends with the large format photo printer as well. We were interested in digital theory, Internet studies, relationships between machines and non-machines, pop-culture, genetic algorithms, affective computing, photoshopped clouds, the Death of the Author, and the trace of the digital.

Hye Yeon Nam

The expectation to conform culturally weighs on me heavily.

Recently, I was having breakfast when the server asked how I would like my eggs prepared and if I wanted them “sunny-side up.” I had never heard this term before and had misunderstood him as saying “sun inside up.”

I could have easily answered him affirmatively but instead I questioned him as to what “sun inside up” meant. This led to a frustrating interaction where he could not understand what I was saying and I could not understand the colloquialisms associated with ordering eggs.

In retrospect, I wonder if I should have just agreed with my server rather than causing the confusion to occur? Or was it best that I asked him so that not only did I have my eggs prepared the way I actually wanted them to be prepared but so that I could also learn what “sunny side up” meant to avoid future such situations? How should I have proceeded in the way that was most culturally complacent?

What does cultural complacency imply?

Self Portrait

Elizabeth Skadden

When a swath of land is about to be developed, the urgent archeologist looks for items of cultural interest, sometimes a few steps ahead of the bulldozer.

Skadden_LAND_HUMCON_Writing2

Built in the early 1900s, the Mercantile Building was owned for many years by Cogen’s Printing, who rented space to other enterprises, including the Black Repertory Theater, the Providence Phoenix, and local artists and bands. Each venture left its physical mark on the building’s interior; and each era imposed its own style of interior decoration. One room has been completely wood paneled with an enormous divider of red.

Currently, Mercantile Building is vacant. The arts organization AS220 has begun converting the space into immaculate new artist studios. In the process, all the physical layers of time have been peeled back as the dropped ceilings, the wood paneling, the layers of paint and flooring are stripped out of the building—along with film negatives, drinking straws, desk ornaments, and other signs of former lives.

Skadden_LAND_HUMCON_Writing

This space as it stands empty now, in a liminal position before its change, represents an example of increasingly rare unprogrammed space. Its patchwork look arises from tenants having exceptional freedom to build the space as they saw fit.

Pauline von Bonsdorff writes in her essay Building and the Naturally Unplanned, “The fact that buildings are planned is a reason to find them aesthetically interesting since it means that questions about appearance, design, and symbolic content can be asked in a meaningful way. Buildings are suggestive of human intentions, meanings, and value, positive or negative.”1 The building as an unmaintained space belongs to the realm of ultimate possibility for the people who use it; when it becomes planned for, programmed, its purpose is clear.

I have taken this unique opportunity to hold for a little while longer this liminal stage of the building, by collecting the materials that will soon be erased.

1Andrew Light and Jonathan Smith. The Aesthetics of Everyday Life (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 74
Collapsing New Buildings

Jane Long

To Fix

 

To do justice to the messiness of nature, one tries to make ample use of ambiguity, incompleteness, wordplay, and in discretionary indirection.

The fixing of life for analysis to find a story of life is to kill the life to study life. Something we know all too well. To never know anything but a shell or a residue. The fruitful endeavor of plotting while finding the plot. Plot, plot, plot. Nature curling and turning as beings of nature we try to tell that story our own, the ultimate means to an end.

Jane Long: Subjective ObjectAs a nature. A human nature when we lay our heads down at night, when we eat an unfulfilling meal, when we experience the unsatisfactory return to consciousness post climax, and the dull feeling of coming back to life—reveal the constant suspicion deep within the planted plot that there is no overarching story, just as many plots with no end. In fact, there are so many plots that trying to find the everything-story seems inconceivable even beside the point (Rushkoff 2013)

 

On Everything and Nothing

Lucas Roy

We do not create memories in a linear process.

Memories are fragmented, pieced together in short snippets. When I began interviewing participants and gathering memories, I thought of Chris Marker, a French filmmaker who directed Sans Soleil (1983), an experimental essay-film rich in the composition of thoughts, images and scenes, mainly from Japan and Guinea-Bissau, “two extreme poles of survival.”1

In Sans Soleil, memory and history are both interpretations of the actual event. The difference between memory and history is in how each is used; memory is personal, history is political. For Marker, those who have power write history. Reciting personal memory is as valuable as reciting history, but much about our pasts is forgotten and discredited.

Marker, Chris. Sans Soleil. (1983): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sans_Soleil
The River in My Mind

Jane Long

Long_Epistemology_Thesis_5

What is the point of picking a point of fixation and devoting oneself to incomplete understandings of life, objects and things? To pick at the bellybutton.

On Everything and Nothing

Clement Valla

And what about in the digital realm?

The single greatest leap in our ability to make copies was the invention of the computer. Digital technologies, and especially the internet have accelerated and made more available the means of mechanical reproduction. The computer, the digital camera, and countless other technologies have made a visual artist out of every person who can manipulate digital imagery.

Collective creation, accessibility and free information seem more attainable. Digital technology has made the copy easy and ubiquitous. Mass production—though widespread—remained largely out of reach of single individuals (usually reserved for corporations or companies—groups of individuals), but desktop computing puts the ability to make mass copies at the hands of a much larger number of people. The copy has become a basic condition of contemporary cultural production: emails create copies of text, “sharing” songs on networks essentially means making them available to be copied, “downloading” an image is to create a copy of it, and the “copy/paste” commands have become ubiquitous in almost every software and computer operating systems.

The contemporary world functions on the copy. The internet itself was envisioned as a system for creating redundant information. Should one storage center be destroyed (by war), the copied data would survive. Today, images spread across the globe at the speed of electricity.

Original Copies

Paulina Sierra

In this desire for translation is where Appropriation in my creative process begins. It is activated by what has been assimilated from our heritage and cultural background, a background that has already become divergent by the multiple interventions of otherness we have had in the past.

I want to acknowledge that centuries later we still concoct new interpretations of the old world, just as we have also been able to apply old understandings to the new. Our parameters are modern and traditional, crafted and mass produced, exogenous and indigenous, cosmic and technocratic.

Eye I & Eye Us