The art of drinking a cup of coffee

This is a rambling post about my somewhat strange definition and perception of art.

What people answer to the question “what is art?”, will vary widely. The largest common concept is that art is a visual expression of some sort. I myself have long been of the opinion that almost anything can be an art; whether an action or a set of actions is an “art”, is denoted purely by whether the performing person experiences it as an art.

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Drinking a cup of coffee can be an art; the amount you allow to enter your mouth, how long you have let it cool before you drink it, how much (if any) air do you inhale through your nostrils while sipping, savouring, swallowing? Do you deliberately think of anything special before succumbing to the taste of this black brew, or do you simply let it’s taste ride you? How are you seated? Do you tilt the mug, you head, both? You can say “this is merely a skill, not an art. How dare you pollute the beautiful and divine concept of art with such profane mundanity!?”. Let me will explain:

Conventional “art forms” like painting and composing music are ruled by a simple concept of performing actions that culminate into an emotional experience. The actions you perform are ruled by the tools you have, only limited by your creativity, heavily influenced by ‘what feels good and/or right’. This also includes art that tries to send a specific message or react to a certain event or concept; it will feel wrongly wrong, until you finally reach rightly wrong, and are satisfied.

All of this is the case for drinking a cup of coffee as well; your tools are your thoughts, your body, etc. You can also include countless external tools like odour, lighting, the furniture you’re seated on, and so on. The actions required to get the coffee into your mouth and swallow it, will be defined by what feels good/right, executed countless times (yet asymptotic to a non-existant perfection), but you can also try variations outside your comfort zone to evolve and develop new parts of the art form that is drinking coffee. I find myself sometimes wanting to drink my coffee painfully hot (not only because i got tired of waiting, I simply wanted that delicious singe of black magic), or while closing my eyes and thinking of a dusty old book shelf. This is only what feels good/right, and in my opinion this is the same good/right that that guided Da Vinci’s hand when he painted Mona Lisa.

I hope you enjoy your next cup of coffee, because I know I will!

Electronic literature: video games

 

And we’re back at it again this week with another blog post. On a sunday, as will probably become a tradition for 2 reasons: I am fantastic at procrastination and i am terrible at coming up with good reflections over the things we have been taught over the week, so i spend a lot of time on it. With that in mind, having to write a weekly blog post will hopefully improve me in both of those areas. The reflection part might actually be the roughest one for me, but one specific lecture this week actually made it very doable for me this time around.

And the specific lecture i am referring to is the one we had on Wednesday with guest lecturer Dr. Leonardo Flores, where he talked about the three generations of electronic literature. This lecture was really interesting to me, and it was not because i had never heard the term before. I had an idea about what it was. What i did not realize was exactly how broad the term could go because it is so hard to define and how much of it i have experienced or seen myself. After putting some thought into and focusing on the modern side of electronic literature, i’ve realized how prevalent video games can be within electronic literature.

I love video games and have spent a lot of time on them, and by doing that i have visited a vast amount of genres within video games. And while many of the games i have played have revolved around the FPS genres and more action-related genres like that, i have encountered quite a few video games that are more visual novels than they are games. One of my personal favorites is a game called The Wolf Among Us, which is made by a company called Telltale Games, who are infamous for their episodic adventure games. The game is based on the comic book series that goes by the name Fables from the 1980s, in a dark universe where animalistic creatures have to disguise themselves as humans to survive in the slums of New York. (If this in any ways peak your interest, here’s a full playthrough of the first episode out of five.)

The main reason i like these types of games is because it sort of a revolution of storytelling. Imagine yourself eading a book, and based on a description of example a character you imagine him or her in your head. Or an exciting or action-packed scene plays out in the book, and you imagine every single detail in your head based on descriptions. In a video game like this, you get to see these types of things through the eyes of the developers and how they imagined it themselves. Of course, this game is based on a comic book series, so characters pulled from the actual comic books look pretty much the same. But it’s still a different experience seeing the characters perform lifelike actions with the graphics that are possible today, compared to the still pictures from a comic book made 30 years ago.

Another interesting part of these games is the way the people who created it often make you control one specific character, and push buttons to make the character perform the actions you would like to see. In a way, that ejects a bit of your own personality into the character you are controlling. This brings a wide array of possibilities to the act of storytelling. More precisely in the form of constructing difficult scenarioes or even simple dialogue choices you have to choose between in order to progress the story, that also changes the outcome of certain scenarios in the future and maybe even the ending itself. Exposing the consumer to these sorts of things are a fun way to make the story feel more dynamic and really make it feel like you are in control of the story, even though the amount of things that can happen are limited.

Well, i could talk for ages about video games, but i’ll have to limit myself in this blog post. I’ll end it of with a nice #DDA i did a few hours ago, which again shows of my love for gaming (this was not on purpose, i swear.)

Petter

 

Reflection II: «Permission»

Sunday again, and time for another reflection over the past week. People say that everyone can write, but can anyone become a writer? I’ve struggled with writing most of my life. I can speak with passion about any subject that I fancy, but I often find a mental barrier, or filter, that somehow causes thoughts to scramble, which leads to incoherent text at times. I’m also in a constant rush to catch the monkey in my mind, running around with the dictionary.

I recently heard the idea of thinking in images and thinking in words, Dr. Jordan Petersen talked about his fascination for the well-known Carl Jung. People leaning towards either side, and some people having the ability to do both. With regards to creativity, I believe that highly creative people within visual arts do think in the realms of images, academics in words, and some of the best writers can probably do both – as in describing their imaginary fantasy with perfect sentences.

I believe that I’m of the image-type. I often struggle to convey thoughts that I have, often during photoshoots. Being able to draw can often ease that tension. So where am I going with this introduction. I was sitting here wondering about what I was going to write about this week, we’ve been through some basic meme creations and talked about eras within digital arts. About people breaking free from the traditional art found in museums. People striving for a new way to be creative. So, I thought about this for some time, and then I remembered someone I truly appreciate, John Paul Caponigro, fine art visual artist and photographer. He’s spoken about the creative process at a number of occasions (links below) and believes that everyone is creative, and that permission, passion and persistence are key points.

Gail Sher laid out some simple thoughts in the book “One Continuous Mistake: Four Noble Truths for Writers”; Writers write, writing is a process, you don’t know what your process is until the end, and if writing is your process, the only way to fail is not to write. This thought is applicable to most creative fields if you just replace the word ‘write’ with anything else.

Caponigro speaks about the power in using words to form association with creative ideas. They can help us spark the fire to light up the subject at the right time. This made me think about Google Cloud Vision API, a system for image analysis. Anyone can use it to detect a large number of details in an image, like if there’s people in them, text, relevant keywords, colors, and other properties. Fun way of ‘seeing’ deeper into an image and extracting useful information.

I’d like to say in summary that we need to be open to artistic expression. We may not enjoy the aesthetics of every piece or specific genre, but there is always someone that does. The debate around subjectivity and objectivity in aesthetics is not an easy nut to crack, but I do enjoy this quote from David Hume:

“Not to mention, that there is a species of beauty, which, as it is florid and superficial, pleases at first; but being found incompatible with a just expression either of reason or passion, soon palls upon the taste, and is then rejected with disdain, at least rated at a much lower value.” (Of the Standard of Taste).

Google Cloud Vision API: https://cloud.google.com/vision/ 

What´s the deal with GIF´s?

In this weeks lab, we created memes, connected to the #netnarr #dda (daily digital alchemy), and I´ve never done it before and I had fun! I expected it to be awkward to post it etc. But the class is working so good together and Mia is creating such a positive environment.

In the week coming up we are going to make GIF´s!(Graphics Interchange Format) Which is easy described as a moving meme. But what is the deal with GIF´s? why do we humans find it amusing, and why do we make them, why do we use them?
The GIF´s captures our attention, there is something about them. It is almost nothing special with them, they have no sound, they last mostly no longer that 1-3 seconds, and the quality tends to be low. One thing we can we can say for sure, is that GIF´s core is humor. We combind it with something funny, and unserious. A GIF is not something we would answer with if someone told someone was dead or something, but if someone tells them something stupid they did at work that day, a GIF is appropiate to respond with.

The first GIF

John Woodell, created the dancing baby GIF, which is arguably the first animated GIF. Woodell, back in 1996, chose to make a GIF out of the video of the dancing baby, which was a popular video back them, and then send it to one of his colleagues, and the short after that, the GIF spread across the whole web.

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Why did GIF become so popular?

Like I said, GIF is just a moving picture, or a small clip from a famous movie or so, and it does not include more than movement different from pictures. We often see GIF´s with clips from famous movies etc. A reason for this is that by using a clip from that movie, makes it more likely that more people will use it because they´ve seen it! And they know how the feeling and the setting is from that scene. This is one of the fun reasons why GIF´s is so popular, but there is also a technical explanation to it.
In 1993, Marc Andreesen created the “<img>” tag in HTML. This lets you insert an image into a website, and this tag made it so much easier for people that worked with stuff like this. So this way it created a path for the GIF to make it´s fame, an easy way to share it to the world.
The sentence “simply pressing play on a video is one step too many when timing is relevant for something to be funny”, is something I myself agree to. when chatting, sending a picture can be funny and easy, sending a video will be to “hard” and the humor will fade away a bit. But with a GIF, it get´s funnier. It is as fast to send a GIF as it is to send a picture, and even if it is not that big difference between a picture and a GIF, the movement in the GIF makes a much bigger reaction, because it has more factors to react on.

It is something captivating about the animated GIF. as far back as the late 90´s, they were popular. I remember sitting on my MSN, back in around 2010, when the update came with the big moving objects, me and all ,my friends went crazy about it. A GIF is used as a visual analogy to a relevant topic in conversations, something that is surprising but still relevant. An example, if you and your friend are chatting, you tell them something funny and awkward, or if you make a fool of yourself in the chat, you can send a GIF like this( the one right beneath) to acknowledge that you know what you did, and compare it to this feeling the GIF is creating.  And this is funny.

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For me, I find GIF´s hilarious. I enjoy using them with my friends. I use them as a response, and to show how I´m feeling and how I react, like most of us do. The GIF is a great invention for the world and the internet.

 

 

 

 

DEEP ART

My realisation on deep art happened when this picture popped up in my twitter stream last summer. It’s created by Chris Rodley, an Ph.D. student in digital cultures at the University of Sydney. By using a machine-learning algorithm that crossed a page of dinosaur illustrations with a page of flower prints it produced this outcome. It’s one of my favourite pieces and its made by a computer. 

This begs a couple of questions. Let’s say a computer can produce anything. The most beautiful art in any shape or form. Totally by it self. Who own it and how do we value it. Someone has to push the button. It’s like being a photographer.

I took one of my photos through a deep neural networks and selected Van Gogh style. The differences that separat my Artificial Gogh Generated «painting» and a real painting is quite fascinating. One minute vs. probably a month of work. With a bit more control over the outfall of this type of creational piece its a worthy competitor to a real painting.

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AI has a big role in all things moving forward. These «new» tools for 3 generation digital creations. Mainly VR, 3D print, Google Tiltbrush and Dreams (PS4). On how games becomes tools and how it will change everything. My next post will be about this topic. Industrial tools for everyone.

 

Minimeme….

It is time to write my second blog post, and I am feeling a little bit more confident about sharing my thoughts with whoever wants to read them. Last week I tried something new, I created a blog and posted my first blog post. This week I gave meme making a go, so I made two, but I think I only posted one of them on twitter.  Both of my memes were a play on what had happened in class the previous week.

Meme1

 

I made my memes during lab, and I found the whole experience quite amusing, but also with a hint of anxiety about posting them. Will others find them amusing? And other thoughts like that one pops into your head and make you feel a bit reluctant to post them. In the end you just need to put thoughts like these in the trash and move on! So I did.

I find this course rather refreshing and interesting because it challenges not only my knowledge but me as a person. It challenges me to step outside of my comfort zone, and as I am a bit lazy I tend to stay inside my comfort zone. I am starting to see that I can learn so much more than the knowledge framed by the curriculum, because of the challenges I get from attending this course.

 

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“Starry night” by Vincent van Gogh. 

 

There was one thing i class this week that make me think, and that transported me to this magical experience I had in Paris a couple of years ago. I went to Musèe d’Orsay, and I got to experience several of Vincent van Gogh’s works. His works are so beautiful, so I was really excited to finally get to see them in real life, and I as I said it was utterly magical. It also felt somewhat weird standing in front of this painting in a busy museum having this fantastic experience all in my head. This brings me to what pulled this memory back from storage, the question of the original vs the copy. In this era of digital art when pretty much everything can me copied and shared all over the world, what significance does the original hold? Do you have a different experience looking at the original than looking at a copy? My argument is yes, I had seen copies of van Gogh’s works numerous times before and admired them, but the experience of seeing the actual real life painting was incredible.

During class and as I read the first two chapters in Digital Art, I began wondering about this experience at the Musèe d’Orsay, and why seeing the original paintings was so much more powerful than a copy of it. I started wondering if the fact that I had seen these copies of van Gogh’s paintings and wanting to see the original influenced how I experienced the situation. Can copies in a way give something to the original works of art by giving more people a wish to experience the real thing, or will the magic of the original disappear?

 

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Self portrait by Vincent van Gogh

Second post

I believe that there’s always gonna be someone who refuses to let their form of art to be a part of the digital world. There’s no way it can be stopped on a global scale but I think that some will always prefer the “old fashioned way”, Which is a good thing. Today there is so many directions and different paths to go and that means there is always potential for new artists and originality. If someone prefers painting or drawing by hand, who’s there to stop them?

Today it’s all about digitization and that’s great and all, but do we really need to digitize everything? I’m all for it but we don’t necessarily need to put our old ways behind us. As if we don’t spend enough of our time on mobile phones and computers already. I believe that there’s gonna be digitization within art but it doesn’t have to absorb everything, as in a matter where everything is replaced. Yeah, change is good and there will be more opportunities but by all means there should be room for both ways.

On the other hand, there could be benefits from this as well. One would get all the benefits there is today in digital art. Where you could get instant responds, people would have easy access to your work and you could use tools that allows you to make mistakes on a computer. Where you can undo or erase if you were to make a mistake. These are just some of the things you would benefit from. Will they always be benefits though? It doesn’t necessarily need to be a good thing that people will have easy access too all of your work. What if someone were to steal it and use it as their own, or use it without the authors permission? There is both good and bad sides in all of this and there is still a long way to go to find a solution around all of these problems.

Anyways, this was my take on this weeks lecture.

My second blog post – ever

My second blog post – ever

Another week is over, and suddenly its February. This week hasn’t been that great for me, because I spent most of it in bed, sick. But I did manage to pull myself out of bed to attend the NetNarr lectures, and I’m glad I did.

On Tuesday we learned about art-history, but the lecture we had on Wednesday really stuck with me this week. Dr. Leonard Flores lecture really got me thinking about Electronic Literature and what this really is. It’s a genre that I haven’t given that much thought, and never really understood what this genre contained.

I must say that it was truly inspiring listening to Dr. Leonard Flores, and he showed us some really cool and weird examples of what electronic literature is. When I think about it, there are so many examples of electronic literature which I didn’t realize was categorized under this genre, for example memes, twitter bots etc. Flores led us through 3 generations of electric literature, and there was this one particular example from first generation, I found extra interesting. Im talking about the viedo-poem Roda Lume

Roda Lume is a video-poem, developed by E. M. de Melo e Castro in 1968, that in a weird way combines text, sound, images to make this first-generation electronic literature piece.  His work ended up inspiring various genres of digital hypermedia poetry later on.

I don’t know if Melo e Castro intended to make this Electronic Literature piece “scary”, but I found it interestingly disturbing to watch.

Regarding the development of Roda Lume Melo e Castro stated in 2006:

When I began using video technology to produce my first video-poem, Roda Lume (Wheel of Fire), in 1968, I did not know where the limits were and where my experiments would take me. I was really experimenting on the most elementary meaning of the word experience. A sense of fascination and adventure told me that the letters and the signs standing still on the page could gain actual movement of their own. The words and the letters could at last be free, creating their own space.

I like this old, weird feel this example of first generation electronic literature provides. It’s so different from so many electronic literature pieces we see today, and I think that we now get bombarded with a lot of work that’s not all that good (or any good at all).

Watching Roda Lume I immediately got an association to David Lynch`s short film, from 1968, The Alphabet. This film combines text, sound, images and film but in an intended disturbing way.

(p.s, dont watch this movie alone, in the dark, at night, nor in a feverish state)

David lynch, I think, is more artsy in the way he uses pictures and movie-elements. Lynch, like Melo e Castro, uses the form and sound of the letters to compliment the “whole” of their work. I can definitely see David Lynch being inspired by Melo e Castro, and vice versa. Who knows, maybe they were secretly best friends.

We are at the end of this blog post, so I’m going to share some of my own Electronic Literature (and other stuff) with you guys:

I was actually a little inspired by Roda Lume and The Alphabet when i made this jester gif.

 

So that was this week’s blog entry. I finally recovered from my cold, so im ready to take on this new week, I hope you are to! 🙂

#NetNarr 2018-02-04 22:19:38

I’m sorry about this but I got to go off-topic in this post. I’ve actually not been in Bergen these last couple of days as me and my girlfriend’s been in Berlin since Thursday. We went to celebrate 5 years together, so this post will be about some of the stuff I experienced there that might have som relevance to netnarr.

Berlin.

We went to an interactive museum called DDR in Berlin that told the story of everyday living for the citizens of East-Germany during the years after the Berlin-Wall came til they tore the wall down.
They had some cool exhibitions there but one of things that struck me as the most networked narratives was a mock-up of a kindergarden. It included all kinds of toys and learning tools, many of which I’ve seen around the attic at my grandparents.
The thing that stuck out to me was plaques on the walls with the names of different toys and a QR-code with shareable pictures and information on each. They also had a hashtag which should be used when sharing it. I haven’t really seen this before but I felt it was a great way to interact with the audience at the museum. The whole room had it’s own networked narrative.

 

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I’m writing this on the plane and we should be wheels down on Flesland in about 5 minutes and I’m already behind schedule since we have a big match in a couple of hours.

Have a good evening!

Didrik Helland

102 Educated Memes

So now the third week is coming to an end, and I’m struggling to find out what I’m going to write about. This week has been quite eventful, lot’s of different events popping up. We’ve had lab and lectures, learning new things. Monday, in the lab, we made memes. When it was announced I was again sceptic about the whole thing. I thought “Memes? They aren’t made, they just happen.” However, I’d forgot the ole caption memes that are pron to circulate on 9gag and other meme pages. This is probably one of the most classic ways of conveying memes, and I’d completely forgot! Nowadays I consume most of my memes through, pardon my french, “shitposts” and YTP (YouTubePoop).

Making memes were actually pretty fun and even before our professor was done giving her instructions I was at it with meme-creations. I made four in total (originally posted @espen4lyfe on twitter):

 

 

And I guess this counts as my weekly contribution for the class? I hope so because I’ve been slacking on the DDAs this week, being somewhat sick. As I’m writing this; the memes I made Monday even foreshadowed it!

We also had a pretty interesting lecture with a friend of Mia (The Professor), Dr. Leonardo Flores. Usually I take loads of notes from every class I attend, but this time I chose to do switch it up and pay more attention. How smart this was, I have no idea. However it was a change of pace and the topics he covered had interesting angles to them. Flores showcased some video-game history as well as different types of digital art. He focused on how digital art and electronic literature had evolved and adapted with the times. You could say that with new tools comes new creativity. It kind of put it in perspective for me how different traditional art and digital art is. Digital art has a main theme often when it comes to communicating with the receiver mainly: being interactive. Like with memes. Memes are the easiest way to communicate and convey a message. That is probably one of the main reasons of it’s rapid growth over the last 20 years. One more thing that I want to mention is the twitter bots. I’ve always known about them (mainly through annoying spam-bots with lewd pictures), but now I followed a couple of different funnier ones like for example @regrettoegret ‏and @pentametron

I don’t have all that much more to say today. As I said, I’ve been sick. I’m never sick so when it hits me I feel like I’m dying. Maybe I’ll make a strong comeback next week with stronger reflections and thought about our course. I hope so. Anyway, check out the Scandinavia and the World comic, and bye.

– Espen