Currently in the process of scanning my physical journals that I kept in the past year, documenting my FYP thoughts. I want to put together a process journal with material from my notebooks, as I feel that a lot of my personal thoughts and reflections about the project (or any ideas relating to the project) are often kept in those books.There are more sketchy, and not so much as polished as the entries that I write on this site. Not that anybody would really read the entire thing, but this journal would reflect more accurately of the process and particularly, the act of active documentation, which is at the core of my whole project. Not that anybody I will be doing a little of each thing (the output, process journal, and the report) as I go along. It probably sounds like a lot of work, but it is mostly shifting around the information and material that are already existing.
(images from Nicholas Felton’s website)
Since 2005, Nicholas Felton have been collecting data on almost every facet of his life and presenting his findings in a series of beautiful graphical posters. Each poster focus on the statistics that makes up a topic. For example, while looking in to his relationships, he breaks down the frequencies he meet people, who he communicates with most often, the amount of time he spends socialising and more. All of these data is presented in a variety of graphs and charts. Through this project, Felton hopes to explore how to graphically encapsulate a year.
Felton is inspired by the concept of annual reports, which are often generated by corporate companies at the end of each business year, as a comprehensive document that charts the company’s activities, earnings and progress. The Feltron Annual Report project is a very refreshing and humorous take on a typically corporate documents. Through my part-time job, I’ve had the opportunity to work on annual reports before, and truth be told, they are not the most interesting project to work on. Looking at Feltron’s Annual Reports really made me think of the annual report in a totally new way.
Felton’s approach to making these personal reports is exactly what I hope to do with my own blog, conceptually. He pairs the impersonal, corporate style of annual reports with personal details of his life, and through the various infographics embedded in each poster, we piece together activities and life in each year. It is a really brilliant example of how data can be used to tell a story.
What I also observe in this work is that Felton weaves in his sense of humour in this work, which you can see from the titles he give to each statistic group. “Most Common Relationship? Friend.”
Felton uses a variety of tools to help him log in data: some are apps which are available commercially, and some he built himself. He also acknowledges that while it is possible to collect data on almost everything, what can be done with the data is almost endless.
“The data set itself was messy and overwhelming, and filled with enough information for several more reports. There are inherent shortcomings (like the unrepresentative amount of water recorded), and endearing strong suits (like the exploration of mood).”
Felton on report 2009
In the span of this ten year project, each report progressed from collecting information about everything to focusing on just one area. For example, in the report 2013, Felton explores his communication data, which breaks down his usage patterns from sources like texting, calling, emailing and being on social media. In the report 2011, he explores how his personality varies in different settings or with someone.
Overall, I find the Feltron Reports a very inspiring way for me to look at how I can work with the data from my blog for each year, by highlighting some of the more interesting details and experiences. I also observe that he each year, his infographics take on a fresh, new style. This also inspires me to use graphic design as a way to sum up my year, and to include (in a subtle way) my graphic influences along the way. I think it can be part of my narrative as a visual artist.
The title of my project is beverley.tv.
Through this project, I’ll like to rethink the concept of webcam in our everyday lives. All of us now have access to an inbuilt webcam on our laptops, but few of us use the webcam to broadcast or record the nitty gritty details of our lives. Instead, we use our mobile phones to capture these details. We turn to social media to share every part of our lives, through text updates and pictures, and more often than not, we gain validation through comments and likes. We willingly give ourselves up to surveillance and allow the portraits of ourselves to be painted by other people when they view our carefully curated profile. Most of us use social media enough to notice the patterns and behaviours we take on when we go online: we share a lot, but we also conceal a lot, all to build and curate an online persona or what we hope others perceive us as.
For my project, I would like to open up my process of making art public to the audience in an unrepressed and informal manner, while making use of social media platforms and its functions to aid my project.
My broadcast will combine two kinds of filming and recording to document my artistic process: using the mobile application Periscope and Quicktime player’s screen recording function. The two filming methods is a contrast against each other, inspired by the concept of private vs public. Periscope works by using your mobile camera to film live footage of your surrounding and sharing it with an international audience, whoever happens to be online and tuning into your channel. It also includes a live commentary function, where you can see viewers responding to your broadcast and giving “hearts” in appreciation. Quicktime’s screen recording is an in-built function that records your actions on the screen. The screen recording records all the actions that take place on the screen. I use it as a form of broadcast as it offers a private and genuine way of documenting the art process, as it records all the subtle actions I do on-screen as part of the work: whether it’s a pause during typing, backspacing, deleting — these are all little details that offer a glimpse of the thought process, and how everything comes together to form a final piece of work.
As an artist, I find that documenting the process is just as important as making the work. I am a firm believer in the saying that it’s the journey that’s important, and not the destination. Documenting my process at each step of the way is akin to making sketches in a notebook: it allows me to go back and see what I have done, what works and what didn’t.
The concept of private vs public is rarely explored in the realm of art, particular the relationship between the artist and the viewer. Little interest in shown towards getting to know the artist and the process, and often the attention is on the work itself. Through my work, I also want to highlight that making mistakes is part of the process. A lot of times, most creatives tend to keep this part of the art-making process hidden and not shown to the public. There are also other habits that creatives keep hidden because they feel embarrassed about it. Through my work, I offer an uninhibited view into the process of making a piece of work.
The project is also influenced by the reading ‘Webcams: The subversion of Surveillance’ by Steve Dixon. The article explores the use of webcam as an electronic eye to our personal lives, and potential exploitation of privacy and intimacy. The reading also uses an example of a group of artists who use the webcam to document their processes, turning their studio into a Web installation. The webcam is also described as a camera which produces “low-resolution, grainy” footage and it’s static effect also lends it a stern, surveillance quality.
Jennifer Ringley’s work Jennicam is an inspiration for my project. She lives her life out in front of the camera, and it records her activities from the mundane to the intimate. My takeaway from the work is that her documentation of her life is definitely realistic. Her setup of her cameras also provide insights to her life through various perspectives, by setting up cameras in every room and from all angles.
thisjournalsuitsme examines growth and self-discovery in the age of the Internet, particularly in the period before the advent of social media. The concept of deconstruction and the literary genre bildungsroman comes together to form the framework for this project. The method of ‘remixing’ will be used to explore and manipulate my archive of digital and virtual journals, summing up these data in web and print forms.
At the start of the semester I wrote a short introduction to my FYP, before I decided to analyze just my blog content only and going with data visualisation. I think that even though my current desired outcome might be very different from what I had envisioned at the start, I don’t think the concept will change drastically, perhaps I just need to rephrase or reframe certain ideas. Even though I am totally new to data visualising and infographics and not completely knowing where to begin scares me a little right now, I think I am able to find my way around it, and to eventually make something I will be proud of. I feel that this learning process is particularly important to me at this point because I want to graduate knowing that I’ve made something completely unexpected and new, combining what I’ve already known/can make, with something that I have learned.
These are some ideas that I want to make clear about my project currently:
- Using bildungsroman as the main framework for storytelling with my data. The outcomes of visualising my blog data is a look at the psychological transition from youth to adult.
- The web part of my project will be an interactive way of looking at data visualisation. Glitch aesthetics will be used as metaphor for the topics that I write about in my blog (various kinds of experiences as transient errors that seek to resolve by themselves).
That’s all for the moment. Writing about it helps a lot, kind of refreshes my mind.
I found this website with a gallery of beautiful data visualising techniques, which (at last) gives me some ideas on how I can break down my data. I haven’t done much since recess week and am struggling with how to make use of my data. Tagcrowd is particular useful as I can take a look at the taxonomy of my blog posts, at a glance, from any period that I pick. So I don’t have to go through every single post to draw it out. It can be done, although it will be a feat because I’m not looking at book.
I think I have been putting it off for a bit because I got started with highlighting the text according to categories I made up and at one point I was like WHAT ?!?!?! and it was rather scary and overwhelming and I think I might not be able to continue doing for each and every post (I have 2,700 entries), and the content might become way too arbitrary to fit into just one or two categories. Also, going through what I have written when I was 13 was particularly embarrassing at times, even though I do take a step back and look at the text from a systematic point of view… still can be a struggle, because I did write them after all, and I’m not analyzing something that’s written by someone else or something that is purely fictional. I find this psychological part of doing this project something that I can also expand on, perhaps later, or as part of the process journal. The act of going through one’s journals and looking it from a third-person point of view.
Anyway, this is where Tagcrowd comes in handy for just sieving out words like “school”, “people”, “art”, just to highlight some broad categories immediately, and then under these umbrella of terms, I can then go into the entries and pick out some of the significant words I use to talk about these things.
I might start with some numbers for example, just to get me started. Just plain old figures. I got here a quick list I made just now:
- Number of words in my archive
- Total number of entries
- Post frequency
- Day of the week with highest posts
- Day of week with lowest posts
- Longest entry
- Shortest entry
- Number of exclamation marks used (Thought of this when I saw some particular angsty entries… ha ha)
- Number of swear words used (After the above)
Please let me know if you have more ideas 🙂
I can’t believe it took me a week to get this entry out. I’ve been feeling quite stuck and I have been bumming around. I should have just written this out. It got me out of the rut a little.
Hasan Elahi’s work Tracking Transcience is a webcam project. He developed a GPS tracker and a network device that allows details of his current location to be made available online. Here’s a description of the work:
an embrace of surveillance for its subject’s own protection; Elahi has protected himself from unwanted scrutiny by making his entire life and whereabouts publicly accessible.
— from Creative Capital
Which gives this project the subtitle: The Orwell Project — more than just putting this information out there, Hasan is also critiquing contemporary investigative and surveillance techniques.
Think of Tracking Transcience as a self-updating blog/Instagram. The website refreshes periodically with new sets of images. The homepage image displays Hasan’s current location.
Here’s a generic webcam capture from the website. I found this capture to perfectly embody the description of the webcam as stated in the reading:
Its low resolution, grainy pixelation lends it an antiquated, pre-television quality, while its stubborn stasis echoes the stern discipline of the surveillance camera. These qualities imbue the webcam with both a sense of documentary authenticity and of liveness that is central to its appeal and status: people log in to webcams to see what someone is actually doing now (or what is actually happening in the space now)
The situation in this photo is as perfectly real as reality: the mess on the table is reflective of an individual with a desk-bound job. The chair turned away from the table suggests the individual getting up from the desk and moving quickly away; as if we just caught this moment just as he left the table. It’s this kind of authenticity that gives the webcam its sense of appeal and also the eeriness of surveillance.
Some other images from the website include the meals he had, which are less creepy.
Here’s a grid display of webcam snaps, which is kind of like a montage of what he is up to at various points during the day/week. What I find fascinating about this in particular is that it even captures a urinal, which reveals that this network device goes with him almost everywhere.
Another interesting point raised about the webcam in the reading is the behaviour/subject that is being placed in front of the camera. The images generated by a camera of any kind suggests the user’s attitude towards the camera, as pointed out in the reading: flirting with the camera, impressing the camera, and ignoring the camera. In the case of Tracking Transcience, Hasan Elahi is likely to be ignoring the camera. He does make an effort to place the camera in such a way that we get a clear view of what he is doing/looking at, but the footage are nothing very controversial or extremely fascinating, perhaps just rather accurate depictions of his reality.
Been using Periscope to take videos of things that I’m doing. Again, I must stress that I don’t do very interesting things everyday. Most of these videos are just footage of me trying to keep up with my to-do list. I don’t overthink when I shoot the videos, and I’m not particularly concerned about where the camera is pointing or if everything I see can be seen through my Periscope eye. I’m just capturing things the same way that I’ve been using the Quicktime screen recording function to record my actions on the computer.
For example, I made a 5 minute broadcast of my FYP meet on Friday. I just left the phone there while class was going on. After class ended, I reviewed my footage and I realised that there’s been quite a bit of interaction going on while I wasn’t looking. From the comments I can gather three things: 1) people are viewing it from various places in the world. 2) dudes make up a large % of my viewership. 3) dudes are creepy. Apart from the comments made by these weird dudes, I find that there are people who aren’t just aimless viewers. There was this guy who could tell I’m in NTU. Someone asked about the haze situation here. I quite enjoy this live/anonymous interactive part of Periscope.
I think I can try to incorporate my Periscope videos with my screen recordings. I’m encouraged to pick up my phone and document my surroundings more actively with Periscope, compared with other social media apps. I asked my friends and family if they are familiar with Periscope, and some have not heard of it. I like it at the moment as it is not used widely in my social circle, which can give me some space to make these broadcasts kind of ‘anonymously’, and having this live audience that’s constantly changing might be helpful for my work as well, rather than making broadcasts targeted towards people who already know me.
Here’s a draft outline of my final project:
Title: beverley.tv (might change this as my project progresses…)
Description: An internet TV channel broadcasting web episodes, documenting my life on the computer, by sharing the computer screen publicly.
- documentary style web episodes (webisodes) of what I do online/offline
- using Quicktime’s screen recording function to capture footage from my desktop.
- each webisode can focus on a specific topic, for example: how to waste time, how to get shit done… etc.
Jon Cates, Bold3RRR
I have a renewed appreciation for this work. Last semester I was still quite baffled by the idea. But I have a better idea of it now and following the discussion in class, I am also quite inspired by the idea of desktop sharing as a form of communication and personal documentary.
Modern Family, Connection Lost
I watched this over the break while catching up on my TV shows, and I was rather surprised by this episode. The whole story took place on the desktop of one of the characters, Claire. It shows how she uses various apps like Facetime, Mail, Safari, to communicate with her family while in transit at an airport. It is refreshing and fascinating to see how the desktop can be used to tell a story, and that is used for such a popular and mainstream TV show.
Adventure Time, A Glitch Is a Glitch
This episode of Adventure Time also incorporates the glitch as part of the story, and the whole episode is designed to be “glitched”. The character designs looked raw and deconstructed, and the landscape reveals the grid work. I thought it is interesting because in this episode, the “glitch” was a kind of monster than the main characters Finn and Jake must help to destroy, and having the environment set up like that creates a sense of authenticity.
A common idea that I can derive from these pieces of work and apply to my own final project is that it really exemplifies the term ‘virtual reality’ at its most literal definition. It is a face of reality that follows the movement of a user’s click and touch on the computer. This method of storytelling, if I can call it for my work, can be a mix of thrilling, engaging and entertaining.
In terms of content, I am not sure what it is I will be presenting in my webisodes just yet. I’m making use of Quicktime’s screen recording function to make 10 minute videos of myself working on the computer, everytime I am online and doing something. For starters, I will make some videos first, and then once or twice a week I will look through what I’ve recorded and then sieve out some potentially interesting segments to put together.
The final project involves some live streaming. For the live streaming part, I will perhaps just show whatever is on my screen while I go on to do stuff. But I will have some pre-recorded segments made, just to give viewers some context about the work and what it is about. This can be a couple of pilot episodes I think, just to get it started.
For example, one episode can be dedicated to getting distracted online. Then I’ll look through the footage captured each week and sieve out the bits that captured me when I am trying to do work, but command+tab to another screen to look at lame youtube videos or chatting with my friends. Something like that. I think it might kind of be funny.
I normally talk about movies and cartoons from the previous decade but I feel it’s time that’s time to discuss something that’s more exclusive to the 2000s, and that’s the popularization of the internet. I know it’s been around since the 90s, but back then it’s mainly used for pornography and black market goods. I know that’s still the main use to many but as the 2000s decade was progressing, all these new websites were coming along, many of which was for social networking that wasn’t something most kids were going into, so what kids really had then was this wonderful browser-based animal RPG called Neopets. It’s where I went onto the internet when I was young. Neopets was probably riding off the super popularity/success that was Pokemon. Neopets was a site where we could have virtual pets, and there was a large world there that we could do quite a bit in… it was just a quirky early internet site made for college students…
A transcript from the video which I found earlier today about Neopets, and I want to write a bit about it as I think it’s a good starting point/back story to the virtual part of my project.
I think Neopets.com is the virtual equivalent of a physical childhood play thing for some people my age. If you asked them what is their earliest internet memory, perhaps it will be Neopets. Like Pokemon, Neopets is made up of fictional world that is richly inhabited with creatures, items and many more. I didn’t own a GameBoy when I was a child, but once in a while when I meet my cousins, I would borrow their GameBoy and play Pokemon on it. We would take turns playing it and while it was quite fun, I never fully experience the fun of being a Pokemon trainer. But I had a computer at home and my cousin got me onto Neopets. I became so obsessed with it, and I was absolutely enchanted by this rich world. That was in 2004 when I was ten years old.
Anyway I could go on about why I loved Neopets so much, but it is quite embarrassing and I remembered being called a ‘Neopets freak’ in primary school, and it’s not the main idea of this entry… But what I eventually took away from my Neopets-crazed days was learning how to code stuff. There was a page on the website that taught users basic CSS and HTML (things couldn’t get that complicated on a web browser then anyway), which they could apply on their user profiles to beautify it. Looking back, I thought this was a very interesting way to get users to personalize their profiles. I’m not sure what was the reason behind encouraging players to use coding to change their colours of the text and add web links. As a young girl, I was drawn to making my user profile pretty and stuff, so I had to learn these basic tips and I think that really got me interested with web pages and web design. I didn’t have a topic that I was interested in, so I dedicated most of the web pages I made to my dog. I took pictures of my dog and put them on the web page, and accompanied the photos with stories about her.
Anyway, I got really carried away making all these web pages. But it was all in good fun, and I eventually quit playing Neopets, moving on to making more of these webpages for good.
I wish I had screenshots for all these stuff. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to embark on the virtual part of my project. The Internet is brilliant, and with it, we are able to keep track of data. I quoted Deyan Sudjic previously about the immortality of data on the virtual reality, but I sometimes feel that paradoxically, all of these data is quite ephemeral, as objects of memory. They are more fleeting than physical things: a piece of Post-It someone left for you, or a piece of jewellery your aunt gave you. The concept of time and relevance on the Internet is perceived differently than in reality. Once something is updated, and new things come along, you can’t really find an old version anymore. Things get old quickly on the Internet. Servers and domain spaces have a time limit. My old websites can never be retrieved again because the free web hosts I were using were either gone, or were developed into something else. I tried to keep backups of my artworks on the Internet on a thumb drive, but I lost it ages ago. Amongst various attempts of rebooting my virus-infected computer also leads to the loss of data over the years. What I have now is my blog, my Internet journal. Even the media I upload have a shaky, unpredictable life span. Old pictures from 2005 cannot be retrieved, because the servers have died. I thought my blog would be the most appropriate thing I can use to talk about this ephemeral nature of Internet memory, because I have been using my blog for a long time, and given it’s time and space on the virtual realm, it is quite a relic. The rest of my Internet ventures have been very short-lived, relevant for the time that it was popular.
Neopets’ rich fantastical world also retains the nostalgic and innocent quality of childhood playthings, albeit on a digital space. When it became really popular back then with children, it was labeled as a website with ‘sticky content’ that got children to spent hours and hours per week on it (children like me). Comparatively speaking, the effects of Neopets on young people is nothing compared to websites like Tumblr and applications like Instagram, both of which are used widely by many young people. Tumblr is also a rich world full of content pertaining to real-life and popular culture. It is a mass Internet media of unfiltered content, which can be a good and bad thing. For example, pornography .gifs are a popular thing on Tumblr. Skinny inspiration is also popular on the website. I mean, I’m no prude or anything, but I find it quite worrying that such content are so easily accessible to anybody. Along with the few other popular social websites, it generates and feeds a culture that thrives on these images for envy and jealousy. Tumblr’s (in)famous endless scrolling function means that you’re constantly, forever, addicted to this stream of content.
The installation space for my work should put the outcome in context. As I am working with my personal archive, I think that the best way to house the works is to build a space that centers around my own identity and practice as an individual/artist. I always tend to think that I am my work, and my work is me. It is not really meant to sound that self-absorbed, but I feel that the process and documentation of my art-making is as important (sometimes more than) as the outcome. I find a personal joy and fulfilment in making the works, and this is what makes me happy.
That sort of gave me an idea for the installation space. The following pictures are from my blog and documented my workspace throughout the years.
Workspace in the art room, 2010
Having a moodboard is important. I built a visual vocabulary out of these amazing Zouk flyers that I collected as a teenager. They have inspired me so much over the years, and I would even go as far as to say that these flyer artworks influenced my direction in life. If I didn’t collect them and take them seriously, maybe I would never be interested to pursue art and do visual communication.
Found a really interesting article from The Design Society Journal, written about the impact of these flyers as an effective visual communication tool for established clubbing spot and as influential, memorable things that are part of the Singapore design scene. I thought it was quite a sweet homage to the flyers and it was nice to finally read about some of the graphic designers behind the works I loved for so long, and also to know that many other local designers share the same love for these flyers that I do.
In my installation space, I don’t intend to include my collection of Zouk flyers and other print materials. I consider this a part of my archiving and art process, as they make up the bulk of my workspace and inspired me greatly. But I am thinking about how illustrating and writing can come together in my practice. So I might propose that my installation space could include a wall decal, an illustrated piece about my feelings on this.
For the display of my outcomes (print, digital…) I am thinking of using a metal rack.
Something very generic. Depending on the outcome of my wall decal, I might change the material of the shelving to match the decal. For me, the metal rack is a symbol of the workspace. I think having a table or some pedestal is way too literal of the workspace, and honestly a bit too formal. At the same time, it is not my intention to recreate my teenage workspace or something. The FYP is important to me because it’s my last project that I will make as an art student in an institution, and I would like my outcome to reflect this idea of documentation/journey/destination, growth as a individual, and overall, a sense of maturity, I hope. Hahaha. I understand that my work do contain some teenage angst and that kind of stuff, but I want it to be kind of humorous, reflective, but I also don’t want to give the impression that this is who I will always be.
I had a conversation with my friend and we briefly made some plans about having a studio together in the future. As he is a photographer, we both agree that working with someone of a different discipline could be beneficial to our own practices. We spoke of building a library together and having a bookshelf in the middle of the studio as a representation of this collaborative way of working. Likewise, the bookshelf is a repository of resources. I think it ties in with this whole idea of archiving and documentation as well. The bookshelf also represents this idea of transition: who or what I am going to be next, and where do I see myself later on.