Y2S1 | History Of Design | Visual Communication | Writing to Typography Reflection (General Reflection)

It was our first lecture last week on Typography, shifting from product design to visual communication in our staggered lesson structure. It was interesting to learn about the evolution of typography, albeit rather content heavy- two hours’ worth of information being loaded to us. I won’t be focusing on just one subject matter, so here is a general summary of what I had learnt so far in lesson one. I’ll be highlighting some important terms along the way, they’ll be in bold.

The lecture started off with cave paintings and petroglyphs.

Through these cave paintings, the inscribing and drawings it had was more of conveying of information rather than it being aesthetic. Slowly, writing became more abstract, in cuneiform.

It changed from sharp stylist and pictorial, to being complex and indefinite. Then came sound words, pictures of things that could represent an idea.

This was something which took the longest time to decipher, until rosette stone was found. Rosette stone had three different type of languages: Top being hieroglyph, middle being demotic script, and bottom being Greek language.

This is the Book of dead. The material used is Papyrus. Felt the material during class, seems as though it is one of those leaves that the hawker uncles serve their hokkien mee in. One interesting fact of this type is that it could be read from left to right, or right to left, or top to down, based on direction of symbol.

Next would be the alphabet transformation. Only 21 alphabets initially, all consonants and no vowels.

This is a Votive stela with four figures. From the type as seen below the sculptures, the “A” looks like triangle, “T” look like a form of rectangle, and the “E” is like a square with the dot as the middle stroke. This type is to be read in Boustrophedon– left to right then right to left like a zigzag direction. However, it eventually just transform to be read from left to right like how we normally read in this era.

Over here we have Greek uncials, which shows a more cursive writing. due to less strokes. As such, they could write more efficiently. As you can see, the type are all of the same height, which is what uncials mean.

Then we have the Roman square capital, where there are no spaces between words all join together. They are separated by the dots in between each words. This is the first appearance of serif. In other words, we could also call them square letters.

As for the Roman rustic capitals, these are the normal people writings. The type is smaller and thinner width wise, and much lesser strokes as seen.

This is the Book of Kells. It is half uncial (insular), which is an extension of the alphabet. The material used is parchment skin, which is smoother to write on as compared to Papyrus as mentioned earlier.

From the Book of Kells, it influenced the Caroline minuscule script. Minusculerefers to the lower case letters. Also, we start to see obvious strokes above and below, there isn’t a fixed height for each type anymore.

This is the Douce apocalypse. For this type, the vertical strokes of each alphabet were first drawn, the curves are then filled in thereafter. Thus, we could see that it is much more condense, with more characters in a line. Although this looks dense, it as meant to be space-saving.

From here, we’ll be venturing into the Chinese area for type. This is an Oracle bone script, earliest known form of Chinese writing. It was used for definitions such as forecasting weather.

This is the Diamond sutra. It is the first printed scroll/book for anyone to attain it and read it. We start to see calligraphy from where in the form of regular script, this was when Emperor Qing united all the different provinces in China.

Moving away from the chinese writings, here we have the Biblia Pauperum.  It has Pictorial artefacts which serves as a purpose to explain to people who were illiterate.

Touching a little but on product design, this is the Gutenberg punch and matrix. Gutenberg created this movable type. He was trained as metalsmith and this is his  main invention.

Here is a short clip I found online which might help us to understand it a little better:

Then we have the Gutenberg bible, which is based on gothic letterforms from Germany.

In De dibinis, both alphabets upper and lower case were all used as the designs have to be compatible.

Slowly, we can start to recognise these type as they start to form the shape of the alphabets we use in our current generation. In Romain du Rol from France, this type design was considered a transitional type. Thick and thin alphabets becomes more obvious, and the type as a whole looks more and more vertical as compared to old style gararond.

Then we have Vergil’s Bucolica, another transitional typeface. From here, type started to become what we name as minimalist style. It shows hierarchy and contrast using only type alone.

Finally, we have Manule Tipografico, where we see Modern typefaces.

It was interesting to see the evolution and process of typography. Typography is used by ancient civilizations of the world to represent ideas ever since the beginning, and these images soon evolved into alphabets and phonographic writing, which led to the development of various typographic systems we have right now.

In conclusion, typography no doubt has an extensive history, and is obviously a crucial aspect of graphic design.

 

Y2S1 | Interactive Media 1 | INTER—MISSION Interactive Project | The Lapse Project

It was a pity that I could not make it for INTER—MISSION performance. I’ve heard many mixed reviews on the performance from my friends, while most said that it was a rather abstract work that was hard to understand, which I guess was probably an avant-garde one. As such, I had to research about INTER—MISSION, and to select one of their interactive projects presented from https://inter-mission.art/.

So, what is INTER—MISSION?

INTER—MISSION is an art collective initiated in 2016 by Singaporean artists Marcel Gaspar, Urich Lau, Shengen Lim, and Teow Yue Han. It focuses on interdisciplinary and collaborative works in video art, audiovisual, performance, installation, interactive art, and discourses of technology in art. Having collaborated on various projects both locally and abroad, the collective aims to inhabit the gap between technologically engaged artworks, artists and audiences — using technology not only as to enforce utilization of tools and medium, but to explore notions of human cognition and sentience. INTER—MISSION builds transnational networks to promote sustained dialogue and engagement with media practices. It creates a space that encourages collaboration, reflection, and participation in our ever-changing technological environment through interactive performances, installation, video screenings, international and interdisciplinary dialogues, and knowledge sharing.

In short, INTER—MISSION is an art collective that aims to alter the audience’s minds into deep mental activity through making heavy use of technology to bring the artwork and audience together over interactivity.

After reading on INTER—MISSION’s works on https://inter-mission.art/, I have chosen to research the work:

THE LAPSE PROJECT

“Does technology help us to remember, or forget?

As we develop new visions and modes of interaction with Singapore the city, how does our relationship to her monuments change? What constitutes our collective reality?

Toggling between the physical and the imaginary, and responding to the accelerated digitisation of our environment, The Lapse Project imagines a world that is constituted through interfaces where places of artistic and cultural identities become editable, and can just as easily be switched on or off. Through processes of digital manipulation, the multimedia installation “erases” familiar landmarks that now serve as spaces for the arts around Singapore’s Civic District – Singapore’s oldest building, The Arts House, National Gallery Singapore, National Museum of Singapore and the Singapore Art Museum.

The Lapse Project takes a multi-dimensional approach to question memory, space and legacy through lapses in structure, time, particle, text and image. Visitors are invited to embody these lapses, contemplating the presence and absence of sights and sites.”

The Lapse Project is split into 5 components:

  • VR Lapse
  • Particle Lapse
  • 24HR Lapse
  • Panorama Lapse
  • Journal Lapse

Here is an overview of each component.

1. VR Lapse

VR stands for virtual reality, a computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

VR is getting more and more popular in this current era, taking over many forms of art as well. In VR Lapse, Singapore’s oldest colonial building, presently known as The Arts House, is digitally erased. The neo-Palladian architecture has gone through various uses and inhabitants, previously serving the former parliament prior to its present day function as a venue for the arts. This digital intervention suspends the viewer in a 360-degree view of the vicinity, as they situate themselves around the blank expanse of where The Arts House was supposed to stand and consider the absence of a historical monument. Photogrammetry is used to remove the familiar landmark, allowing for the viewers to experience the simulated reality of The Arts House’s disappearance. VR Lapse aims to trigger emotions of the audience by the experience of such a disappearance.

2. Particle Lapse

Everything lively has a vibration, particles vibrate and atoms are in a constant state of motion with their speed determining dif­ferent states. Sound and thought are also vibration, a manifestation of life. Syner­gising with VR Lapse, the micro vibrations of The Arts House and its visitors are collected via contact microphones and ampli­fied as feedback directly to the viewer, confusing the experience of a singular real­ity through spectral sounds that suggest other variations of embodied experiences. Pitting the vibration of sound against the physical infrastructure of the building, a lapse in particle occurs.

3. 24HR Lapse

Viewers from exactly 24 hours ago float into the gallery on the CRT monitor, spectators of the past appear to coexist in the same space and time collapses, showing no clear distinction between the past or the present.

CRT stands for cathode-ray tube, a vacuum tube that contains one or more electron guns and a phosphorescent screen, and is used to display images

These apparitions are also suggestive of the seemingly obsolete technology of CCTV surveillance that is being rapidly replaced by data mining. The overlapping of spaces and people converges in a complex web of algorithmic analysis that challenges our perception of reality as an eerie simulacrum.

It might be hard to understand so here is a live video of what went down for this component:

Posted by INTERーMISSION on Saturday, 28 April 2018

4. Panorama Lapse

In Panorama Lapse, The National Museum of Singapore, National Gallery Singapore, Singapore Art Museum are erased digitally from their respective locations in the city, as though they were never extant within the Singaporean landscape. As relics from Singapore’s colonial past, these institutions also complement The Arts House as bastions of culture and the arts in Singapore today. Panorama Lapse is presented as a video projection triptych that shows the surrounding street views from various vantage points in the vicinity of the three major cultural institutions. In their absence, what is left behind is a haunting expanse of space, left perhaps to incubate other imaginative possibilities.

Here are some examples of what were shown on the screens:

Panorama Lapse negotiates the imaged landscape as a digital canvas, opening up discussions concerning vantage points, territorial boundaries and the ethics of digital manipulation. In this altered world, passers-by and visitors are still seen on location going about the usual interactions but with the absence of the physical buildings.

The screengrabs on screens were all rendered using Autodesk Maya, yet again another software that requires technology:

5. Journal Lapse

Integral to our collective’s collaborative approach, The Lapse Journal features the writings of Steve Dixon, Seng Yu Jin and Christina J. Chua. The writings engage with INTER-MIS­SION’s work from various perspectives and flesh out considerations of lapse as an artistic method, as an experience and also as a means of intervention. Steve Dixon introduces ideas of “lapse” that are central to the project, Seng Yu Jin expands on “lapse” as a strategy that disrupts the representation of realities and time and Christina J. Chua relates the disappearance of institutions to amnesiac breaks in memory.

Through these 5 components, we could tell that The Lapse Project is an art collective dedicated to discourses of technology in art. It inhabits the gap between technologically engaged artworks by the artists, with the audience.

Although all 5 components made use of technology, each component is special and different in its own way. I realized these components focuses on different interactivity, mainly:

  • Visual (VR Lapse & Panorama Lapse)
  • Sound (Particle Lapse)
  • Mind (24HR Lapse & Journal Lapse)

So how do I feel about The Lapse Project?

In today’s world, digital media is taking over everything else. People are slowly losing sense of what is real and what is virtual. The virtual world provides perfection and contentment and they dive deep into it unknowingly, not knowing that it is filled with manipulation and fake news.

The art of The Lapse Project’s was to present a world filled with flaws and glitches. As such, The Lapse Project uses different forms of technology which includes visual and sound to reproduce a representation of the real world, to twist and contort the audience into thinking that it is the reality.

In VR Lapse and Panorama Lapse, the concept of removing cultural places was a response to Urich Lau’s The End of Art Report (2013), which was showcased at Singapore Biennale 2013. The End of Art Report engaged the media to investigate the worth and importance of The Singapore Art Museum, The National Museum of Singapore and The National Art Gallery, by creating fabricated news report which says that all three museums were compelled to close down due to economic, political and societal reasons. As such, the goal behind VR Lapse and Panorama Lapse was to allow the audience to feel what it would be like if all three museums were really demolished through visual disruption. Some might not even realize the removal of these cultural places. Thus, different audience will experience different emotions, from a sense of loss to apathy.

24hr Lapse could be influenced, from the dialogue with Urich Lau and Warren Khong’s col­laborative exhibition titled Light-Space at Objectifs — Centre for Film and Photogra­phy in 2016. Light-Space was an exhibit where the audience views themselves in a room through a live feed that was projected as fragmented images with static-interfer­ence. The overlap of past and present in 24hr Lapse destroys the Greenwich Mean Time, which is the mean solar time at the Greenwich meridian, adopted as the standard time in a zone. As such, audiences were able to view themselves and also people who were at the exhibit 24 hours ago at the same time, distorting their presence at that very moment as they see “specters” surrounding them. Both Light-Space and 24hr Lapse intended for the audience to be the main focus of the work of art.

Particle Lapse comes into play by projecting the vibrations that were caught inside the microphone 24 hours ago, into the surroundings. The idea of having eerie static vibrations could be traced to philosopher Jacques Derrida in Spectres de Marx (1993). Der­rida likes the idea of having incorporeal spirits in his works, as he felt that it could warp reality into an uncertain virtual world.

Therefore, all five components work together to form The Lapse Project. The Lapse actually simulates the audience, forcing them to think and reflect on the importance of having culture in this generation, where the real and virtual are starting to get progressively more and more obscure. This is truly impressive as it follows INTER—MISSION’s vision as mentioned by me above- to alter the audience’s minds into deep mental activity through making heavy use of technology to bring the artwork and audience together over interactivity.

I must say that there was a lot of thought bring put into making such a deep interactive art, and I am very dazzled by the whole process, to the final execution of the whole work of art.

 

Y2S1 | Interactive Media 1 | Inspiring Example of Interactive Art | Rhythm 0

The world we live in now depends so much on technology. Digital has changed everything, and it is only going to continue. Digital is the future. When it comes to interactive art in this era, we are dealing with so much coding and programming, exploring the realms of technology.

Let us shift ourselves back in time when technology has not prospered. How did interactive art come about when there was no digital elements being put in place, but just the art itself?

Let me share with you my example of a thought-provoking interactive art, which inspired me in almost all my works that I had done so far:

Rhythm 0

by Marina Abramović

Since the beginning of her career in Belgrade during the early 1970s, Abramovic’s body has always been both her subject and medium. Exploring the physical and mental limits of her being, she has withstood pain, exhaustion, and danger in the quest for emotional and spiritual transformation. This particular blend of epic struggle and self-inflicted violence was borne out of the contradictions of her childhood: both parents were high-ranking officials in the socialist government, while her grandmother, with whom she had lived, was devoutly Serbian Orthodox.

Rhythm 0 was a 6-hour long interactive art by Marina Abramović, a Serbian performance artist.

The work was held in a rather huge enclosed room, with her standing still in the middle, and a long table draped with a white cloth filled with 72 props that she had placed before the audiences were invited into the room.

Here is a short clip of the interactive art:

Some of the props include:

  • pocket knife
  • candle
  • needle
  • kitchen knife
  • hammer
  • metal spear
  • razor blades
  • alcohol
  • wire
  • sulphur
  • metal pipe
  • scalpel

and, a gun with bullets.

These were the written instructions:

“Instructions.
There are 72 objects on the table that one can use on me as desired.

Performance
I am the object.
During this period I take full responsibility.

1974
Duration: 6 hours (8pm–2am.)
Studio Morra, Naples

As such, the audiences were welcomed to use any of the props on Abramović, who subjected herself in this place of activity. A famous American art critic Thomas McEvilley, who was present, wrote:

“It began tamely. Someone turned her around. Someone thrust her arms into the air. Someone touched her somewhat intimately. The Neapolitan night began to heat up. In the third hour, all her clothes were cut from her with razor blades. In the fourth hour, the same blades began to explore her skin. Her throat was slashed so someone could suck her blood. Various minor sexual assaults were carried out on her body. She was so committed to the piece that she would not have resisted rape or murder. Faced with her abdication of will, with its implied collapse of human psychology, a protective group began to define itself in the audience. When a loaded gun was thrust to Marina’s head and her own finger was being worked around the trigger, a fight broke out between the audience factions.”

When the gallery announced the interactive art was over, and Abramović started to move again, all the audience left, unable to face her as a person. Abramović stated that this work of art “pushed her body to the limits”, and that the experience she drew from this was that “in her own performances she could go very far, but if she leaves decisions to the public, she could be killed”.

This interactive art really made me think deep. Different people perceive the word “interactive” in “interactive art” differently. For me, the word “interactive” has to cover either one of these concepts- Co-creation or Do-It-With-Others (DIWO). My personal definition for these concepts are as follows:

  • Co-creation: Creating something yourself, together with the aid from others.
  • DIWO: Creating something together with others.

Hence, I feel that Rhythm 0 made use of the DIWO concept. The consequences of the interactive art are produced by both Abramović, and the audience. Some might argue that Abramović did not play a part in the final outcome, but I beg to differ. The fact that Abramović allowed the audience to take part and to use the props on her shows her consent, and this consent plays a huge role in this interactive art. Without her consent, there would not have been any outcome at all. It would just be a static art.

Thus, the concept, or rather technique, of using DIWO is very important in interactive art. Without DIWO, there would not be any interaction at all, the work of art would just be fixed and stagnant, with no interplay.

Next, I would like to address the context and theme behind Rhythm 0. I’m sure some of us might find no purpose in this interactive art- why did Abramović put herself in such a sadistic and cruel spot? This is how uncomfortable interactions comes in. Last semester, I did a research on uncomfortable interactions, so please do screen through it as I’ll be explaining Rhythm 0 in terms of uncomfortable interactions.

You can view my research here:

Y1S2 | Experimental Interaction | Research Critique 4 | Uncomfortable Interactions

In summary of what uncomfortable interactions is, it is using the idea of discomfort to design the work of art. In many situations and in many art forms, we only talk about giving the user a good experience. However, in uncomfortable interactions, it is the total opposite.

The whole interactive art of Rhythm not only gives physical discomfort to Abramović herself, but also mental discomfort to the audience. Those of them who were not involved with the props might feel uncomfortable after seeing the others using them on Abramović, especially when it does significant harm on her. What surprised me was that discomfort does not have necessarily lead to a detrimental outcome, yet it might even provide a better experience for the user. There are three main aspects for uncomfortable interactions, they are:

  • Entertainment
  • Enlightenment
  • Sociality

In short, entertainment is brought up through the usage of the props by the audience while enlightenment is when both Abramović and the audience both feel physical and mental discomfort respectively. Lastly, sociality happened at the end. I mentioned above that when the gallery announced the interactive art was over, and Abramović started to move again, all the audience left, unable to face her as a person. This is what I call “disconnect to connect”. The audience immediately disconnects from the whole interactive art as they were not able to come up against the final situation. However, little did they know this is how the whole interactive art connects- this is what Abramović wanted to achieve.

“Rhythm 0 was exemplary of Abramović’s belief that confronting physical pain and exhaustion was important in making a person completely present and aware of his or her self.”

The audiences (those that made use of the props) walking away made them aware of his or her presence and actions, and the synergy amongst them is then built upon. This is what I meant by “connect to disconnect”. As such, the use of uncomfortable interactions left a huge impression on the audience, which further enhances the work of art.

In conclusion, Rhythm 0 is a very impactful work of interactive art in my opinion. It might be a really simple set up while looking at it by itself, just Abramović herself and props on the table. However, when you take a step back and look into the bigger picture, the interactions involved and the many hidden messages behind each and every action as mentioned above shows the amount of thought process bring placed into this interactive art. As such, this interactive art really inspired me in my artworks that I had done, and I am sure it will continue to influence me in my future works as well.

 

References:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Marina-Abramovic

https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/abramovic-rhythm-0-t14875

http://www.underground-england.co.uk/news/marina-abramovic-rhythm-0

Marina Abramovic’s Rhythm 0