José Fernández Liermann

No longer centered on a conscious struggle with religious identity, cultural replacement and redefinition are happening every second on the Internet, where spontaneous and compulsive information circulation demonstrates our arguably natural impulse for cultural repackaging.

Cult of Cute

Elizabeth Skadden

Robert Mueller Airport was a parcel of land that was up for sale to developers.

As the Cattelus Company began bulldozing and constructing real streets, our own runway paths disappeared. Experimental filmmaker and urban geographer Bill Brown has recorded the effect of such vanishings on his website, heybillbrown.com, a catalogue of eccentricities in the American landscape. “It’s strange to see the infrastructure disappear: A demolished gas station. A vanished ATM. Unpaved parking lots and ripped-up railroad tracks. Like somebody threw a switch, and now the city is running in reverse, shedding the stuff it’s made out of. Coming undone.”

As Cattelus construction persisted, the fence was taken down and a children’s hospital rose in the distance. Today, Robert Mueller Airport is a “community” called Mueller Development. “The sustainable, transit oriented design of this new community includes a broad range of homes plus places to shop, dine, jog, bike and play,” says their website.

There are only two reminders of the original landscape: the wooden hangar, which has been partially deconstructed and whitewashed to be a part of the children’s park, and the air traffic control tower. These are my lighthouses in a sea of unfamiliar landscape. Looking at them reminds me of specific instances, such as the time we biked to the airport and shot Super 8 of us riding over the airport runways. I can find the exact spot where this once happened but the view of Best Buy is alien. This landscape is irrevocably changed; it is no longer mine.

What happens to our memories when our topographic map changes? What happens to an emotional map based on space when that space is gone?

Skadden_LAND_HUMCON_thesis2

Laura Swanson

From what I’ve heard from non-D+M students, D+M seemed mysterious, which made others want to know more about it. We were often called “wizards” by the other grads. One undergrad said we were the “cool” department. RISD grads/undergrads and Brown students always wanted to take classes in D+M and the Wintersession classes we taught were all overbooked. I remember one time during Open Studios D+M was so packed with people having fun that the Grad Student Alliance made an announcement that they were shutting it down and made people leave.

The department’s mystery and ambiguity are part of what make it so special and so difficult to define. I think people saw it as a collective of conceptual artists/designers/thinkers who had the freedom to pursue compelling ideas. In other departments, you might not have the freedom to work outside of your medium, so D+M was a haven for risk-taking and experimentation.

Edek Sher

In 2014 I saw a punk outside a venue. She was punk because of the ripped, black leather jacket with studs. It was torn. She wore all black. Her punk jacket was covered in band’s logo-patches. She turned away from me. On her back, in the center, the biggest patch said: ugh.

LA LA LA

José Fernández Liermann

Cult of Cute

On Aesthetics of “the cute” and the cult of consumerism: Cult of Cute is an installation piece inspired by my research on cultural influence and “aesthetic categories.”

It proposes that our personal understanding of cultural phenomena is conditioned by subjective interpretation, aesthetic considerations and suppressed traditions. I am using the intersection of Black Metal and cats on the Internet as a springboard to explore the cultural mashup, in which two apparently unrelated or opposed concepts converge as a consequence of our inherent affinity for mythology, mass production and image circulation.


 

Lucas Roy

I live next to Coffee Exchange, a small coffeehouse on Wickenden Street.

It is a place where many people start their days, getting cups of coffee and then sitting down for a few minutes to talk to friends or co-workers. Sometimes the line went straight out the door. It was one of the more popular places on Wickenden Street, but even so, after two weeks the employees knew my order—medium dark roast with cream. I began feeling a connection with the place and the people who were a part of its culture. It was not uncommon for someone to start a conversation with me and every time I returned, that employee or patron remembered my name and we started up where we had left off.

My connection began with the coffeehouse, but soon extended to the people I ran into. Most people were quite willing to talk to me and soon I began hearing stories—about the area, about when they grew up and their feelings about Providence, Rhode Island. I realized I was experiencing a small part of the culture of the city.

When I think of the ways in which culture is created in an area, and how people develop sense of place, I think of my time at the coffeehouse. I developed relationships with the people I ran into, even if we simply exchanged greetings. I begin to get an idea in my mind of what that place felt to me. “If space is where culture is lived, then place is a result of their union.”1 It seemed with each conversation I had, each instance of interacting with the community developed my personal relationship with the area.

1Lippard, Lucy R. The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society. New Press, 1998. Pg 10.

The River in My Mind

Claudia O’Steen

Arc of Visibility

This work points to a never-ending process, a series of attempts to measure an infinite line, to chart the color of the sky, to capture the single point where a shift occurs in a limitless expanse. Using altered surveying equipment I document the sea and the process of being in between two places.

Departing from the familiar, I begin a process of navigating the unknown. Through this transit, I extend my own boundaries into un-encountered territory and embrace the unforeseen. Using devices that refer to both the past and the future without positioning themselves in either, I displace fragments of landscape, allowing you to experience places and events in many ways at once. These constructed tools take in light and reflect my surroundings, allowing me to measure and record my position in relation to the infinite horizon line, or the apex of a wave.

Seeing, counting, and measuring are ways of understanding; creating tools to record and quantify these measurements allows me to understand them in relation to myself. Using these devices, I attempt to orient myself by examining place via the lens of personal experience and primary observation, often selecting points that are ultimately impossible to calibrate against.

 

 

Elizabeth Skadden

What value lies in the death of a medium or the change of a space?

I am not the first to explore an idea, but rather the last to make sure that the idea is no longer valid. My work resurrects dying mediums and forgotten spaces in the form of installations, films, and GPS projects. This interest has compelled me to explore abandoned buildings, all formats of movie film, large format cameras, and the empty corner lot. These spaces and mediums are only here for a little while longer, so I make art with them to preserve them, even though I know this effort is ultimately futile.

The first-hand works of the Greek poetess Sappho are largely destroyed. Yet citations in other ancient writers, often made to illustrate their own points, have kept her works in the modern spotlight. Likewise, my work rescues a scrap of a dead medium by engaging it amid the digital noise of the present. Society no longer sees these spaces or mediums as important, and leaves them behind for me to catch.

When you are using abandoned spaces and dead mediums, no one tries to define their use; you are free, and the materials are yours for the taking.

Collapsing New Buildings

Mary Burge

Wish You Were Here

I am waiting at the passenger pick up when I spot a man in a grey suit and white straw fedora walking along against the pink sidewalk. Rosy and blurred in the dirty glass, Mark comes into focus in discrete pulses. I reach for my cell and call him when he is a hundred feet back.

“Hi, this is Jack Benny,” Mark responds immediately. “Jack!” I laugh. “I can see you.”

“You can?” he cracks, laughing too. “I feel like a gangster in this suit.”

I am out of the car and snapping pictures like a paparazzi photographer on four espressos. We embrace as I am still shooting.

“Mark!” I fairly squeal. “You look great, definitely like Jack Benny.”

“Thanks, you look great too.” he says in his strange urban Texan accent. I linger over our embrace as long I can without being obvious. Mark smells like sunshine and sweat.

“Let’s go eat. Are you hungry?” I ask, popping the trunk for his suitcase. “Sure.”

We end up eating at a Thai restaurant in a strip mall next to a Korean karaoke club. It’s not a tourist place. It’s lunchtime and co-workers are taking their hour break at the buffet bar. I get red curry with tofu and proceed to fill Mark in on what I’ve been doing in Vegas. His excitement and curiosity feeds my own. I tell him about Freemont Street and the Elvises and my epic search for a wedding dress.

“I booked the Viva Las Vegas wedding chapel,” I admit, scanning his face. “For Sunday. The lady didn’t sound too happy when I asked her about getting an annulment in Nevada.”

“Well, damn,” Mark replies. “She’s not a romantic?”

“Yeah right,” I shake my head, “her name’s Denise and she used to be a showgirl. She suggested I do a commitment ceremony instead of a wedding. Apparently you can’t say ‘I do’ in the state of Nevada without becoming officially married.”

“So what do you want to do Mary?” Mark asks, his face unreadable. What do I want to do? I want to finish what I started, I want to walk down an aisle and have a drink and a kiss afterwards. I want to never leave Las Vegas, to eschew planes for good until we find a nice gated apartment complex with a pool and a landscaper.

Instead of all this I say, “I want to see what happens.” I grab Mark’s hand and gives it a squeeze. He holds it for a little while then lets go to signal for the check.

 

Janet Shih

spiritual, transparent, kawaii, dreams

spiritual, transparent, kawaii, dreams is a triptych of images taken from online communities (specifically Tumblr). It applies the images seen linearly on online platforms into a traditional composition, calling for the process of scanning and interpretation by the audience.

It attempts to combine our online perceptions into a representation of those images in our worldviews, asking: when does the offering become the deity?

Janet Shih: spiritual, transparent, kawaii, dreams