Tania Tay of the facebook profile suddenly gains a small glimpse into the outside world. She is stunned, yet decides that she wants to come out. Tania Tay continually screams as her world shatters, and she desperately tries to escape, but no one hear her cries save for one.
She manages to come out, once again, but this time round, she has to fight against the other components on the screen itself to get her voice out. Here, she experiences increasing unhappiness about her life in the media world, revouches her intention to leave her world, and states that she would be coming out soon.
Act I: The Awakening (Bubbling Unhappiness) is a re-filming of part I, but functions as a follow-up and build-up anticipating the following Act II.
Overview Today, we live social. Our consumption of news information are no longer restricted to the paper press; the advent of the world wide web pioneered a more levelled playing field for news dissemination. It remains noteworthy that despite the theoretically more even news dissemination stage – where all news should have equal opportunities to be viewed and maintain a certain standard of non-fabrication – some news remain, strikingly, more equal than others.
The coming of an unequal playing field Without barriers to entry and the seemingly lack of regulation of ‘news’ on the web, anything and everything can be news. The social media scene has blossomed, and an increasingly large number of users use the Internet as a news source. To the ordinary and less invested user (read: casual users), they may take these news at face value without questioning its validity. An article by the CCCB further probed the unfairness of the Internet-system (particularly on Facebook) in selectively dishing out articles to users: certain algorithms and user interaction on the net end up inevitably curating a limited, possibly skewed selection of available articles.
That’s not all! With the advent of advertising services, news sites wanting to increase the outreach of their articles for their vested interests, can now pay to make it happen. News on the Internet is no longer just news, it is now a mishmash of curated content not by the user but by others, for the user. Choice is no longer an option.
Vested news sites?
As mentioned earlier, the deliberate curation and structured news feed of particular sites have altered information availability and possibly, driving users into adopting a more limiting opinion based on the limited information. In the two selected articles of Breitbart News and Washington Post – both presenting opposing point of view – there is a startling difference in journalism writing. Breitbart’s news offers a stronger stance with harsher criticism, with blatant usage of irony (“As in, Thanks, guys, we couldn’t have done it without you.”); ironically, it was a strongly opinionated piece obviously missing the crux of the issue: that Flynn left because of his illegal misdoings, whether or not his misdeeds were revealed by wiretapping. The agency of news is questioned: was their purpose to present a fair point of view, or what should be right? Like Trump’s allegiations that Obama wiretapped him at Trump tower during the last election, the writing is unfortunately similarly, not substantial.
Parody: bringing humour to political news
What’s now new or news? As the reporter of the video excerpt mentioned, “they (viewers) ain’t going to stop”. Parody makes the topic more relatable and palatable for viewers to digest, and they do want more. In spite of the parody treading on uneasy waters – while clearly touching upon a sensitive topic, the skit clearly had no strong directive on their own. Instead of making a personal statement, it purposed itself as a catalyst, to instead further spark off debate. Its constructed artificiality purports itself as an interesting dilemma, of both the fake, and the real.
Overview Riot (1999), by Mark Napier, is an alternative Web browser that constructs its pages by merging text, images and working links from recent pages that the Riot user has surfed. The composite then appears on a single page, with overlapping text and imagery in a haphazard arrangement. The browser can accommodate up to a total of three different sites compositions, with a unique composition per browser refresh.
Definitely, Riot fits the definition of glitch, as interpreted by Rosa Menkman as,
…a (actual and/or simulated) break from an expected or conventional flow of information or meaning within (digital) communication systems that results in a perceived accident or error. – Rosa Menkman in The Glitch Moment(um), (2011)
On two different spectrums, Riot deconstructs:
1. visual imagery and text arrangement on the webpage; and
2. the idea of a singular web surfing experience
Shattering Boundaries: Physical and Digital In allowing multiple sites to flow together, Riot forcefully expands the virtual environment – sites are no longer constrained within their physical boundaries of the digital medium. Traditional ideas of ownership, territory and authority, already transgressed by the new form of the web (where a percentage of online content has a shared viewership and authority), is further probed: through Riot, it becomes a public space.
The dismantling of browser arrangement in Riot can be perceived as an error to the everyday user; conversely, this ‘error’ also exposes the lack of control users have on the net. Despite the conviction that users are gradually having greater autonomy on the net, they are ultimately still subject to the set web environment. Only after experiencing the have-not, then do they realise what they are privileged with – ultimately a human condition of not being able to appreciate what they already have. As such, glitches can be used to,
…bring any medium into a critical state of hypertrophy, to (subsequently) criticize its inherent politics – Rosa Menkman in The Glitch Moment(um), (2011)
Initially, the video was named ‘Cat in the hole’, but later renamed to better reflect the video contents. Similarly, in spite of what I thought would happen in the filming as the situation and filming environment was fixed, the footage turned out slightly different from expected and hence the renaming of it.
When broadcasting, there was nary anyone around me, save for the one odd figure who was passing by the area. Despite that, I felt extremely conscious as I dislike posting on social media being a more private person, and that my video had the outreach to the entire Facebook user population. It felt that I had the power and wield to however, make my own voice heard amongst the sea of media.
As it was my second attempt, the first being a video directly filmed before this, the previous video gleaned comments instead of the second one, as it had the first viewer advantage. The few comments mainly commented on the content, basically aww-ing at the cuteness of the cat-objects. However, I opted to post the second video instead as it felt to be more of a reportage.
I disliked the video footage quality as it was pretty grainy thanks to the bad quality camera and weak 4G data connection, but at the same time, it added to the beauty of live recording – the rawness and spontaneity of it.
The Pirate Cinema (2012) by Nicolas Maigret is an installation artwork featuring 3 screens, visualising how peer to peer data transfer in real time by using BitTorrent protocols. A collage of top 100 most popular transferred files are played across the 3 screens for a few seconds, including a brief flash of a partial IP address and location. Today, the artwork can be viewed online.
How it was created Built on a data inception software, The Pirate Cinema automatically scans the most viewed torrents. The intercepted data is immediately projected onto the screen, and discarded after. Torrents scanned originates throughout the world.
In recent years, the availability of peer to peer sharing towards millions of internet users has heralded a new form of piracy, inadvertently changing the way how cinema is experienced. By exposing the ‘internal workings of media'[i], Maigret makes visible the limitations of peer to peer sharing with his immersive sensory and audio installation. Concurrently, he also highlights the possibilities of peer to peer sharing for being part of the aesthetic experience.
Relationship with the Third Space Network The Pirate Cinema‘s foundations were built upon the third space, despite itself not being part of the medium, but rather, and extrusion of it. It becomes a visualisation of this abstract space, an amalgamation of the efforts of the collective user network engaged in torrenting (unknowingly). Akin to the 1970s and 1980s video collectives such as Videofreex and TVTV, which attempted to mobilise people to make their own medium rather than being passive consumers of a centrally constructed broadcast programming[i], The Pirate Cinema hosts the ordinary consumer (of networked data) into the role of the changed broadcast programming.
They attempted to democratize the media by facilitating people-to-people communication… activating the production of media around a proliferation of local issues expressed by a range of marginalized communities.
– Randall Packer, author of Third Space Network (2016)
Hence, the marginalised, passive consumers are able to break down the hierarchy in media information corporate structure, even-ing the grounds for communication. In fact, they are altered:
It is a living art, exploiting contemporary forms of digital and physical networks as a mode of open praxis…
– Marc Garett, co-director and co-founder of Internet art collectives and communities in Third Space Network
In fact, its existence as a living art can further contribute to the diversity of the artwork – with its ability to constantly rejuvenating itself based on the whims of the collective community, and free against the rules of the broadcast programming.
Ironically, despite of what it seeks to contravene, The Pirate Cinema‘s delivery emulates the centrally broadcast programming in the top down broadcasting to passive viewers. While its content might be drawn upon from the third space, its narrates its information through a screen – similarly, to passive viewers of the installation. Nevertheless, it remains a pivotal artwork in addressing the abstract realm of the third space, underlining the greater possibilities of the third space as an artistic platform and network.
How might the open source system of sharing and collective narrative be a creative inspiration and useful approach for your work as an artist or designer?
The open source system was created in part to subvert the limitations presented by intellectual property legal rights, and the construction of a collective platform for the sharing and compilation of knowledge. As an artist in the making, this open source system of sharing allows me to reference other artworks of both more established artists and my common peers, and be able to understand and pace myself as an individual against the common ground. Art is interpreted on different measures of understanding; the strength of the open source system as a platform to gather artists and thus different opinions and thinking styles, if utilised effectively, can be a resounding force to help artists, or specifically, me, to gather public opinion, and sought critiques which I believe is an essential process in honing oneself as an artist.
On a similar note, while the benefits of Open Source system is definitely admirable, one cannot help but to wonder if there are certain downsides to it. Open source projects which have currently been realised include Blender, Processing, and FastPokeMaps.se. FastPokeMaps however, met an unfortunate downfall when main developer Waryas allowed access to the code for a privileged few, but the code got leaked, and the project was ultimately stopped as a result. As a budding creator, while the open source system is helpful, I feel the need to be wary about the artwork/information I put up on the collaborative platform. Ultimately, this may defeat the purpose of the open; perhaps what we need is a synthesis of both safeguards, and responsible usage. For the starting artist though, the open source system will definitely be a good starting point for her.