better version of final paper to go with project

10 Dec

COLT 335 Final Multi-Media Project Paper

Emily Zurow 12-10-09

Multi-Media Meets Avant-Garde: An Exploration in Interactive & Innovative Realities

Artistic expression is the quest to address the esoteric question of infinity. Across time and place, art is both tied to and defined by the humans’ sensory limits and simultaneous awareness of those limits. For this reason, art has existed in tandem with culture as a discourse: mirroring reality as the people play with tangible and intangible representations of existence. The role of art in culture unites all humans under the humility five limited senses, five fallible and finite tools for the cultivation of a perpetually incomplete theory of knowledge, spirituality and philosophy.  The Avant-Garde movement can be seen as a backlash reaction to the state of the arts in the Renaissance, where artistic expression was caught in the same verse, and précising representations of that which could be seen through retinal perception.

The Avant-Garde by and large was concerned with knowing through the mind’s eye, or not at all.  The overarching theme uniting all sub-movements under the Avant-Garde is an ideology and gravity towards improvisation and inner wisdom, where the intuition of the underdog (e.g. the mad, the child) is summoned as the compass rose of best fit to rebuild a bridge between and amongst all humans past and present, and all that is known and known to remain forever unknown.

The multimedia project my group and I created has its conceptual foundation founded in the recognition that the way of the world today is different than the way of the world at the time of the Avant-Garde movements we study in class, and yet, the mysterious of the human condition remain the same. The theory of Probabilistic Epigenesis asserts into the contemporary discourse the same idea of interconnected bidirectional between and amongst everything, an idea repackaged in a modern lexicon but as old as the ancient Tibetan proverb: the potter both creates the pot and comes to look like the pot over time.

My group and I attempted to explore the junction of probabilistic epigenesis (the  bi-directional and interconnected influence of all things, ideas and people)  and the advents of  globalization  and technology that have changed the way the world is today from the way the world was at the time of the Avant-Garde. Out of the dissonance, my group and I felt that space was created for the shape-shifting of Avant-Garde artistic expression in a state-of-the-art context. The multimedia website we built is grounded in the conceptual combination of the past Avant-Garde techniques and tools that inspire us with the world we are actively shaping today and is shaping us in return.

The galleries and concepts embedded on the website are inspired primarily by Cubism, Futurism & Simultaneity, Color Theory and synesthesia, and Object-Based Psychological Realism. All together, we hope to reveal to any viewer of our website the ways in which the co-existence and overlap between the inspirations can strengthen and build upon the respective concepts, as well as the way in which the clash of simultaneity and color can create a dissonance that is distracting, disjointing and surprising. The harmony from the dissonance is, ideally, sparking a break from the habitual cognitive processes or expectations of the viewer and trigger an out of the ordinary interaction the viewer and our web-based multimedia project.  We feel that this interaction is a microcosm of the bi-directional relationship between human and machine, suggesting that the later may exist in our habits and routines in a very psychologically real way.

The idea that artistic expression can culminate many qualities and identities into a composite representation is inspired by “Ubu Roi” by Alfred Jerry and the Avant-Garde Theater that utilized similar techniques. Placing the quality of psychological realism on the composite representation is a theatrical tool developed in Dada and Surrealist Theater; the website galleries attempt to explore the application of the same tool in today’s multimedia.

Russian Futurism had a pronounced influence on our exploration of speed and simultaneity: for our project, we felt this translated to fluidity between the focal points of pictures, audio and video, and the interactive transition between foreground and background of the multimedia gallery. The interactive element we build into the website is intended to reveal to the viewer their own bi-directionality and mutual subjectivity with multimedia and machine. As the viewer travels through the website, synesthesia suggests a simultaneous emotional and aesthetic element to the colors and their meanings, where what the viewer chooses to view next is influenced by the colors and cognitive-emotional-visual state the previous color struck within. My group and I hypothesized that the synesthesia-based state calls upon concepts connected to colors within the viewer and increase efficiency in communication between the multimedia project and the viewer, aware or unaware of potential synesthetic influences and their own reactions to the stimuli.

Russian Futurism and Cubism combined in the making of the multimedia gallery that hosts our redemption of the Diary of a Madman illustrations, a neo-Russian Futurist story depicted in black and white images. Gertrude Stein was the standing inspiration for sculpting the presentation of the images we extracted from the Diary of a Madman. We explore how images are continuous by nature but often fractured, edited, and out of context in presentation.  One can simultaneously hold two different and contradictory perspectives at one and both realities can be equally true. The gallery is designed to put a retinal reality and non-retinal knowing of ‘the next page in the virtual book’ in the same window frame. Breaking from the default fallacy of binary oppositions that reduce cognitive complexity, we intended to present the illustrations from two vantage points simultaneously in order to create a simultaneous retinal and non-retinal knowing of the turning pages.

Cubist concepts, tools and techniques worked themselves into our project, adding elements of cohesion and inter-connectedness between and within the audio-visual multimedia images. Specifically, we were influenced by Cubist techniques toying with various depths, vantage points, perspectives and continuous motion and presences.

The final project product is a multimedia website with interactive audio-visual and video galleries that is globally accessible and an interactive artifact of today’s technology.   Despite the ways in which our own Avant-Garde inspired project can be differentiated from the original movement, we came to realize that artistic expression stands as a solution to a solution for humans to bridge the finite limits of human retinal reality and the unknown questions of the infinite beyond.


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