The two images I created for this assignment are based on the concept of new media taking over traditional art forms and practises as well as changing the culture surrounding those forms and practises. They portray themes that were given to us in our tutorial, old media vs new media and another binary theme I took from a prescribed reading by Walter Benjamin, analogue vs digital. The digitisation of music is my specific focus in these pieces because, as a musician, this largely affects how music is learned, experienced, and how the entire culture of music progresses (or digresses). In my images, I intended to juxtapose traditional instruments & musical material against new, digitised musical materials and applications. Creating these pictures took a great deal of trial and error as I am far from gifted in the art of digital manipulation. The weekly critiques and ideas that were presented by my peers were helpful in articulating my concept in my images and the improvement of the overall aesthetic of the pieces. Giving feedback on others works was also helpful as whenever I critiqued their works I reflected on my images and it assisted in me becoming more critical of my own work. This process of receiving regular critiques then refining my images based on this feedback was paramount to being able to produce an outcome that clearly reflected the concept I intended and understanding the affects being evoked in my two images.
Conceptually, both my images explore the idea of new media replacing old media. In my image, ‘The boy and the USB’, I focus on performance and the changing mediums through which music can be played depicting a young boy holding and playing a USB device the same way a guitar is held. In my other image, ‘The boy and the piano’, I place more emphasis on the evolving way music is learned and interpreted with an image of the same boy seated at a piano with sheet music replaced, in the image, by a computer screen, specifically an audio-digital interface. Like Walter Benjamin, in these images I took quite a cynical stance on the digitisation of music, somewhat satirically depicting a loss of originality and aura in new music through my pieces with the text in each image (Benjamin 1968, p. 214). I employed the words, “sample” and “bootleg” in each text layer of the images to show this, as they are both words suggesting that the music being created is just a reproduction, a production variation or remix. I think I look and portray this digital development in music with a more pessimistic view because of how it directly affects me as a ‘traditional musician’ in an industry where much of the entertainment space that used to belong to live performing artists is being replaced by DJs and other electronic production artists. I chose a child as my subject in both works to further emphasise the newness of the digitisation of music. In each the boy appears to be learning the instruments, representative of the the shift in new musicians and the music industry from solely traditional analogue forms to new digital forms of practise and instrumentation.
Before I began taking photos and experimenting with digital manipulation and editing, I spent a decent amount of time pondering and ‘researching’ what I might want to depict by searching the internet for music puns and jokes relating to the conflict and tension between traditional and electronic musicians. This helped me generate an outline of what I wanted each image to look like and shape the general affect I wished to evoke, which was a rather satirical and sardonic, as stated above.
I began the creation of my first image, ‘The boy and the USB’, by having my mother take several photos of me posing as if I was playing a guitar. I wanted to have photos of a child playing initially but I couldn’t find one so I began by practising creating the image with photos of myself. I then used Pixlr to edit in a ClipArt USB image in over the guitar and made it appear as though I was playing the USB by removing sections of the image on top with the erase tool. Once I found a child to photograph, a family friends’ son, I applied the same editing I did on my own image, having him appear to be playing the USB like a guitar. A peer feedback comment suggested that I somehow blur or smudge the background so that I could foreground the USB and the child and accentuate them in my image. I played around with those two tools but distorting the background seemed to have a reverse affect as became difficult not to notice it against the still image of the child. After a few experiments with different tools, I used the sponge tool to desaturate the background and over-saturate the USB and the boy so that contrast was created by highlighting the foregrounded images and not by distorting the background.
With my second image, I had more trouble as I wasn’t sure how to place the computer screen layer onto the original layer of the boy playing piano without it appearing 2D and incongruent with the original image. Experimentation with the transform and distort tools allowed me to eventually stretch the image in a way that made it appear that the screen was part of the piano, replacing the sheet music. I looked to have analogue font text beneath the screen as it would’ve added more cohesion to the overall concept of digitisation but was forced to settle for contingency font as the program did not provide such a font. Like my previous peer comment, it was suggested that I soften or greyscale the background to make the text and screen more salient so I again used the sponge tool to desaturate the background and oversaturate the text, Ableton screen, and around the boys fingers playing the piano.
In regards to ethical dilemmas or copyright infringements, I was quite fortunate. I retrieved my Ableton screen image from a creative commons site and if I gave credit to the holder, Joshua Schnable, I could manipulate and use the image as I see fit under the Attribution 2.0 Generic License (CC by 2.0). My USB ClipArt was downloaded from a free clip art site from a creator named Rygle and so I could download it without any copyright problems. The images of the child posed no real ethical dilemmas and I told both the boy, who is 13, and his parents, who I am closely acquainted with, what they images were being used for and they all gave consent for them to be taken.
Patty, love your work. It looks like your experiments with concept and editing techniques have really paid off in your images. Your themes in both images are both clever and easily interpreted. At this point there is honestly no real feedback I can give you as you have taken on board previous critiques so well and developed your images wonderfully. Everything to filtering the photos to blurring the words on the book to avoid any ethical/copyright dilemmas.
This work is of high standard and deserves a grade reflective of that.
Hey, very groovy and unique ideas for this assessment. Have you thought of how you are going to focalise digital literacy or elements of digitisation/ integrate that with your anti-deregulation theme? Jules De Balincourt is another pretty rad french artist you might want to checkout as he also has a number of works of social commentary, specifically on protest (although he is a painter not a photographer). I like your idea with the indigenous Australians and their digital disconnect in isolated rural communities and I feel like this is a concept that be alot more cohesive with the subject than your other idea. Have you thought of how you will incorporate text in each image yet? Or what images you will place in your work without shooting them yourself?
All in all, you have good ideas (personally I think you should portray 2 images on your second concept, it’s a killer), keen to see what you make of them.
This theme of disconnection & isolation in your images is really being presented in a succinct and a way that is going to be easy perceived by audiences. I like your elements of tasteful digital editing and manipulation in these compositions as well. Have you given much thought to the text placement/ what the text will say to reinforce and compound your images? Also, are you using any original photos in these bodies of work? I was under the impression that the assessment required at least 1 original image in each or between the two pieces.
All in all, it looks as though you have a more than stable grip on your concept, how to operate the editing program, & the ethical ramifications behind using/ appropriating other artists works.
Best of luck, it seems to be coming along splendidly.
Benjamin, W. 1968, Illuminations, Random House Publishing, New York
Sketch 27, photographed by Joshua Schnable, Flickr, viewed 6 October 2016, https://www.flickr.com/photos/joshua_schnable/3238508150/in/photolist-8eRU8E-8eLigC-ps3o1K-8qpS5r-bi8iDX-bi89FH-77rqxv-4rWyVW-4rWyDC-4rSw9D-9oB3D8-77rqyk-77vm1d-crqwKs-8HsSGJ-7G4crw-76gTNY-7Rmts8-bBNEHg-5WbcDq-7KUZL3-9qCMUE/
USB Thumb Drive 3, created by Rygle, Open Clip Art, viewed 6 October 2016, https://openclipart.org/detail/167170/usb-thumb-drive-3