Art as a Social Commentary

Ant Farm Artists: Chip Lord, Doug Michels, Curtis Schrier, Uncle Buddie

Based as an architecture and design group by Doug Michels and Chip Lord, in 1968, it looks into the conceptual activity of the late 60s/70s. It breaks through the walls of traditional architecture into the new media. Ant Farm involves themselves in the youth’s culture embrace of communal living, liberation and utopian ideals, breaking free from the ethos of DIY. The group combined architecture, performance, recent news, sculpture, installation, and technology, to document its activities on camera in the early days of video art; embracing the latest technologies to comment on American culture and mass media.

“Ant Farm worked against a backdrop of tremendous cultural ferment, especially in San Francisco ….. was followed by passionate antiwar demonstrations.”

One of the public installation performance Ant Farm did was “Media Burn”, also known as the “ultimate media event.” In this piece, two “dummies” dressed as astronauts ‘drove’ the Phantom dream car at maximum speed into a wall of flaming television sets. It acted as a parodic media critique through the use of two cultural icons: the automobile and television. Ant Farm addressed the omnipresence of television in everyday life. The video is directed after the news coverage of a space launch, including an inspirational speech by a John F Kennedy impersonator, since it was performed on the 4th of July. “Media Burn” became a visual manifesto of an emblem against the political and cultural law.

In reference to Randall Packer’s interview with Chip Lord, Lord mentioned the details in the performance of “Media Burn” had different components that made it more real. Such as, logos and souvenir booklets designed for this piece, turning something fiction to non-fiction. This inspires young artists to look beyond what we can grasp and explore other fields. Inspired by the socio-cultural  happenings, Ant Farm produced and bend art works into social commentary, together. This shows the value of DIWO and what it could create and achieve compared to a DIY project.


In the 90s, the dominance of Britarts in the 90s led a small number of high profile artists to degrade, shrinking platforms and the representation of their work. UK art culture were hijacked by the marketing strategies of Saatchi and Saatchi of the advertising world. This motivated Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow to create a platform where the community were able to share enthusiasm for particular artworks towards the global public – an experimentation and collaboration for the community arts, street art, pirate radio and activism.

It was first established at Backspace an informal production space. It encouraged the idea of sharing ideas and technical resources in both physical and across the globe via the web. This space also acted as a place to advocate DIY consciousness and encouraging users to get their hands dirty with technology and the new culture. It aimed to cultivate the community to interact and experiment with each other. This enabled participants to retrieve and manipulate pieces that have been uploaded to the platform

“Furtherfield provides an informal creative space that supported learning and fruitfully connected established practitioners with newbies acting as a “container, connector, and root node for artists and performers wishing to virtually get together and ‘jam online’.”


Furtherfield, a not-for-profit company, connects the global community into innovating new possibilities, critical thinking and exploring out-of-the-box ideas, with the hand of technology. It also examines and questions today’s important topics through art. They strive for new ways for artists, academics and technologists to work hand in hand, sharing possibilities in the field of artistic, social and economic. It challenges debates and enhances open engagement with people advocating the process of ‘Doing It With Others’ (DIWO).

“DIWO means exploring the potential share visions, resources and agency, through collaboration and negotiation across physical and virtual networks maintaining a critical consciousness…”


Nonetheless, Marc Garrett mentioned that having individualism is crucial, it allows us to differentiate ourselves. However, we as a community too, need to know how to collaborate as it could create something extraordinarily rich in culture and ideas. DIWO culture takes individualism and combines it with others in order to turn it into something unique. Marc Garrett mentioned a collaborative project using Blockchain, where the public sends in a variation of instructions and characteristics for how a plant is going to look like. The artist sets out in the instructions given and constructs the piece. It frame the plant to be a shared co-curated art piece by the community instead of the sole artist.

A renowned example of DIWO would be Yoko Ono’s Cut piece. Through this art performance, the outcome was unpredictable and were decided by the characteristic of each audience. In this interactive collaborative piece, the audience became part of the artwork. Another example would be art installations such as Hole in Space by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz, and Telegarden by Ken Goldberg made use of real time and technology enabling people to interact across a Third Space. It also transformed the audience into co-directors and the artwork itself, thus, resulting into unpredictable outcomes and a non-curated artist performance.


In relation to DIWO and our micro-projects such as, “The Collective Body” displayed a feed of different body parts and faces on a Flickr group page to create a ‘metaphysically diversified body’. This allows each of us to co-curate the direction of the piece through our posts in different time and context. Micro-projects such as the tele-stroll, telematic embrace, social broadcast and exquisite glitch all embodies the idea of collaboration with peers and the public. For example, through the use of adobe connect, our class were able to communicate and negotiate together in order to perform mini-objectives to create a joint movement. Given that it was carried out in the third space, everybody was able to come live together no matter the location (just like how we connected and communicated with the artist, Marc Garrett). The main idea of these micro-projects were to encourage peer engagement and emphasise the idea of collaboration.

Furthermore, Marc Garrett commented that artists can bring positive influence and change towards the society. Whilst making art, Furtherfield practices environmental sustainability and aims to reduce their carbon footprint through the project, Cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency where each encryption techniques are used to regulate units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, or operates independently of a central bank. This leads artists to be more conscious on the decision we make towards the society.

To conclude, the concept of DIWO allows artists from all over the globe to create something unexpected. It enables the capability to break the wall between the artist and the audience, exploring new mediums through experimentation. The media does not matter but the idea that is communicated towards the public is the key point. DIWO breaks down the individualism in DIY into collaboration. The DIWO culture has taken shape in the micro-projects that we did in class, in which enables the participant to achieve an outcome that would not be able to achieve through individuality. It is important for the society to know how to collaborate in order to move forward together as a community and build a better future for us, and not for one. However, even though the aim was to advocate DIWO in the new culture of technology and art, can we create something together, a new art culture perhaps off technology? Can we as a community physically collaborate and create together without the use of the web? Or are we all just stuck in the practice of new web culture?

Image Making Through T Y P 3


To get our brain up and running for this project, we learnt about why humans see faces in inanimate objects, which associates with a condition where one perceives a pattern in random things, called Pareidolia. It also follows one of the principles of psychology where “Human beings are social animals with a basic need to belong”, in this case, to find a face or language in order to relate with, decreasing the sense of unfamiliarity. Following on, we did a simple class exercise where we had to find alphabets in ordinary objects around the school. Here is what my partner and I spotted (can you spot it too?): 




Img1 Img2

Making a mind-map on my sketchbook, I came up with several occupations with mini-sketches that could fit into this project. The occupations that I came up with are the ones that I felt would best represent me, something I was passionate about or even my childhood dream job. I shortlisted it to the top four jobs and started to explore different factors by deconstructing and factoring elements that relate to the job.

  1. Poker Player
  2. Amusement Park Owner
  3. Kindergarten Art Teacher
  4. Astrologist

Research + Process

OCCUPATION #1: Poker Player

First, I decided to experiment with the deck of cards or poker coins to show the occupation, whilst, engraving my name. However, I wanted to show some consistency and the occupation itself. I decided to go by playing about with the set of the ‘Royal Flush’, which is the highest win in poker.  Changing the King, Queen, Jack into letters of my name D, P and H.

After placing the letters onto each card, it seemed rather plain and I was debating between to create a pictorial design or if I should play around with the alphabet itself. Following from my consulting with my tutor, it was better to place an alphabet since it is a typography assignment, additionally making it more clear and alluring.

OCCUPATION #2: Amusement Park Owner

Ideas+ Inspiration board:

Below, I experimented and created an A with the idea of a rollercoaster which can be found in an amusement park, inspired by the picture from pinterest above.

Instead of creating a consistent font of the idea of the rollercoaster as alphabets, I explored and created other fonts through different rides that can be found in the amusement park, enhancing the essence and elements of the occupation.

Over here, I changed the color of the D from more of a greyish tone to a blue-grey pastel tone to match with the other fonts.

Above shown is the two print, one (above) in glossy and the other (below) in matte.

OCCUPATION #3: Kindergarten Art Teacher

Before starting this, I broke down the components and aspects of a Kindergarten art teacher. Paper drawing, painting, simple boxes, dotted lines and animals. I went with a baby pastel and light colors to match with the theme of a child-like feel. I felt that by placing a face on the giraffe made it grab the viewer’s attention rather than the name, hence, omitting the face out.


OCCUPATION #4: Astrologist

I chose this occupation as my passion and curiosity towards astrology grows. Even though it might not be an actual occupation, it is one of my spare time hobbies to read about the horoscope and constellation set in the universe. I used signs within the world of astrology to construct my name. At first I wanted to incorporate LED lights within the piece but it looked a little messy and uncoordinated. This led me to think more of a pop-up style where I will use the 360 degree astrological chart on top of the cosmos background, and top it off with a reflective silver effect lettering for my name (in order to pop out from the background). I painted a cosmic background by using blue and white on a black background and photo manipulated it in photoshop.
D- Moon Sign
A-Taurus Sign flipped sideways
P- Libra Sign flipper sideways
H – Pieces Sign / Saturn Sign

When placed in this arrangement, I realised that it was quite hard to read my name in the order of my astrology sign, capricorn. Thus, I rearranged it in a diagonal order, not as boring as a straight line but something easy to read. 

While I was in Art Friends getting my materials, a reflective aquamarine lured me and I was wondering if I could use this instead of a reflective silver. Hence, I bought it to try it out whether it would fit and tie in the colors together but somehow it seemed off, leading me to stick to my original thought of using the reflective silver material as my font base.



My name isand I am a Poker Player.


My name isand I am an Amusement Park Owner.


My name isand I am a Kindergarten Art teacher.


My name is
and I am a Astrologist.

TO conclude, I felt that I have taken a lot from this assignment. Not only, did I get to brush up my illustrator skills, but also tease my brain to think more creatively and looking at fonts in a more pictorial yet typographic way. For this project, I used both photoshop and illustrator to help me project what I wanted and achieved. I enjoyed this project as an introduction to Graphic Form and is excited to see what is to come in the future!

glitch it

Original ImageGl!t c h no.1

gl1tcc hh h no.2

Ggl!txxchh thr#3

G  gl!txxch h h asdk 4

The glitch mini project was enjoyable as you distort one’s image into an unrecognisable artwork, collaboratively. We manipulated the images of our friends in freedom and to our own desire and it held the important factor of the DIWO (Do It With Others) in art. It is a transformation of a clear cut image to something abstract  and unrecognisable. This allow us to reach the end product together instead of a self manipulated and distorted photo which we can not achieve.

No Limit No Restriction: Online Collaborative Sentence

The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence (1994) by Douglas Davis. 

Born in Washington DC 1933, Douglas Davis was an artist, critic, professor and author. He played an active role in the field of contemporary art since 1960. One of his first few artwork, he set up a live satellite performance through the use of interactive technology as a medium for art and communications, marking his first step into the use of the Third space. 

Together, Davis and the audience constructed an interactive piece in the Third space, known as “The World’s Longest Collaborative Sentence” for a survey exhibition of his work in 1994. In 1995, this piece was donated to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York as an Internet art. This allows the viewers and visitors to contribute to an on-going collaborative sentence.

“The Sentence has no end. Sometimes I think it had no beginning. Now I salute its authors, which means all of us. You have made a wild, precious, awful, delicious, lovable, tragic, vulgar, fearsome, divine thing.”
—Douglas Davis, 2000

By using the web as a medium, this suggests that there is no limit and restriction to what people could say or express; which infers that people may be bolder in terms of what they post since they are hiding behind a screen where there is no physical contact. As mentioned in class, when we are able to see the other party’s facial expression and emotion, it is harder to say things directly compared to an indirect form online where we are not faced physically. 

In this piece, you can find both positive, neutral or negative comments, such as people publicising love to their friends or partners, or expressing random words or sentences, or even ranting about their bosses. Moreover, because this piece is posted online, this implies that it is accessible globally. You can see greetings from users in other countries! Thus, the use of the third space and the contribution of the users are unbelievable! With the network of connections branching out to users in different space and uniting each other all in one space, is the magic of the Third space. Audiences collectively collaborate and compromise, highlighting DIWO, gradually interlinking the audience and the art piece together. 

On the other hand, the software used in this piece had several errors where they had to reboot the piece, which may disrupt the ‘on-going’ collaborative sentence. Nonetheless, I think that this interactive piece was created to explore and examine how people interacted collaboratively in the third space (also known as the web) with the freedom given, no matter the space they are in. 




Across ‘Borders’ – Telematic Embrace

Introduced to the world of Adobe Connect, it was the first time I have heard and experienced this application. In class, we experimented and immersed ourselves into the Third space as a team.

We talked about emotional bandwidth expanded over the years, from simple texting, to calling, to Facetime and social broadcasting. Through the development of this, we are able to view the expression the other party holds and the movement they display through the video, fully engaging in the conversation and response. As a class, we were all in one place (first space), and stepped into the virtual world of third space. We played and interacted with different type of movements and objects through the third space, connecting us together.

Here are some of the things we did through screenshots:

“The Third Space ET Touch”
“Water Bottle Filter”

As a class we worked together as a team through connection, negotiation and compromising each other in order to achieve these masterpieces shown above. We were all involved and crossing the borders of our screen in order to connect with one another. This is an absolute example of DIWO (Do It With Others)! I had an incredible time playing in the third space with my class and this experiment. It is definitely an important skill and realisation to have in the future where we have to interact and work with clients across the border, TOGETHER.