betwixt festival 2016

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I was interested to see the Betwixt Festival at the Art Science Museum. I am unable to make it down to see the works (it was a crazy week) but I went online to do more research on the works. I find it encouraging that there is increasing exposure to the public about software and net art. One of the works that I found on the website is #dataselfieme by Sarah Mamat. That was the only work with the most information I can find. The project makes use of the self-tracking app called Moment, which is designed to help you keep track of the amount of time you pick up and use your phone. She combines the information with a GPS app to track her movement around Singapore in a day. Anyway this project makes me think about a couple of things that I personally feel I should look out for in my own work:

1. drawing with data: I find that the use of GPS drawing is quite a cool concept. I just feel that there could be more to these abstract lines than well… just abstract lines. Perhaps it is a matter of presentation, but many times, these minimal lines look good just because. I think that there is more than can be done for these GPS lines to enhance their meaning. If this work was interactive/animated, there will be more potential for such abstract linework to be put in a more meaningful context that is relevant to the theme.

2. being relevant vs context of the work: I struggle with this in my own work and I see this issue existing in this work as well. The exhibition describes the work as a “contemporary digital self-portraiture”, which I am not sure if it is at all a good description of the work. On the artist’s website, she describes this it as a “portrayal of detailed movement while capturing the essence and totality of the artist, presenting it in a different perspective.” I think what we can glean from the work is that the artist picks up her mobile phone pretty often throughout the day, and certainly this is relatable for most viewers, because it is not uncommon for us to pick up the phone plenty of times. Through her documentation in the few months, I find the data quite repetitive. It makes me think about what makes a good piece of data visualisation and why it works for the really good ones: that it is really important to find something meaningful to highlight from the dataset and tell a story from there. The dataset can always be made available, as something separate from the work, to provide a more detailed insight. In the case of this work, it is a lot of info that doesn’t translate to much, especially about something that we do everyday, and so often. It’s not really a strong dataset that could simply exist on its own and carry its meaning well.

3. lingo: I feel that when it comes to making works using apps that we make use of in our everyday life, there is always a tendency to self-reference by peppering the work with trendy buzzwords. I am a slight detractor of the use of hashtags. I think it has its place on social media platforms and it is part of the language there, but other than that, taking it out of that context often seems like a contrived need to keep up with being relevant to our world today.

That said, I think I also need to pay more attention to how I can properly context my work so that (as far as possible) it doesn’t fall trap to these things. I’m generally concerned about how some parts of my work is deemed ‘trendy’, something that I only quite recently discover why, thanks to Chloe and Qixuan who shared with me some interesting articles and websites. I think it’s the imagery that I’ve been using: screenshots of dated, defunct applications, which are also part of the visual vocabulary of a Tumblr subculture that makes references to those applications. Being able to easily find these screenshots was really helpful for me to try and illustrate the idea of the impermanence of technology, particularly of tools such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Paint, where most people my age probably started with in making any digital art. I hope to make this point a little more clearly so that people don’t confuse this with an existing Internet art trend and then trivialise the nature of my work by the associated (negative) connotations of making Tumblr-inspired artwork.

Final project update: Periscoping

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Been using Periscope to take videos of things that I’m doing. Again, I must stress that I don’t do very interesting things everyday. Most of these videos are just footage of me trying to keep up with my to-do list. I don’t overthink when I shoot the videos, and I’m not particularly concerned about where the camera is pointing or if everything I see can be seen through my Periscope eye. I’m just capturing things the same way that I’ve been using the Quicktime screen recording function to record my actions on the computer.

For example, I made a 5 minute broadcast of my FYP meet on Friday. I just left the phone there while class was going on. After class ended, I reviewed my footage and I realised that there’s been quite a bit of interaction going on while I wasn’t looking. From the comments I can gather three things: 1) people are viewing it from various places in the world. 2) dudes make up a large % of my viewership. 3) dudes are creepy. Apart from the comments made by these weird dudes, I find that there are people who aren’t just aimless viewers. There was this guy who could tell I’m in NTU. Someone asked about the haze situation here. I quite enjoy this live/anonymous interactive part of Periscope.

I think I can try to incorporate my Periscope videos with my screen recordings. I’m encouraged to pick up my phone and document my surroundings more actively with Periscope, compared with other social media apps. I asked my friends and family if they are familiar with Periscope, and some have not heard of it. I like it at the moment as it is not used widely in my social circle, which can give me some space to make these broadcasts kind of ‘anonymously’, and having this live audience that’s constantly changing might be helpful for my work as well, rather than making broadcasts targeted towards people who already know me.

Micro-Project: Pirate Broadcast II

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Here are some screengrabs from my latest broadcast on Periscope. I haven’t been shooting much outdoors because I’m afraid I’ll bust my bandwidth. Today I took a few random snippets of my activities, but this one had been my most viewed so far. I was quite surprised, honestly. This morning after I came back from the supermarket, I proceeded to make a Vietnamese-inspired chicken dish and I did a broadcast of that. I thought it was quite interesting, you know, since food is involved… but nobody was watching it. ha ha. While drawing just now, I made a broadcast. It was a little tricky to hold the phone on one hand and concentrate on my lines. I was focused on making sure I wasn’t drawing out of line and not really looking at the screen, and then suddenly all these little coloured bubbles started popping up with these hearts! People are actually watching it and commenting, live. It’s quite cool. The reaction is definitely instantaneous.

Anyway in my excitement, I forgot to save the broadcast to my phone. But you can view it on my periscope account (username: bever_gif).

This reminds me a little of Snapchat which my siblings encouraged me to join. They tell me that Snapchat is for broadcasting mundane details around us. I thought it was needless, and I couldn’t keep up with broadcasting every little thing around me. But I seriously admire my siblings’ effort to Snapchat everything.

Here’s a photo of them Snapchatting a carwash scene:

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I find that I have to make a conscious effort to pick up my phone to broadcast things. I think this is something I’m beginning to learn since taking up this class. My kind of documenting usually only involves writing about stuff in my book and collecting ephemera from a certain event. I am also definitely learning from my siblings, who seem to have gotten this down pat.

Going to experiment some more with Periscope and consider the possibility for its usage in my final project for Internet Art & Culture.

Research: B Is For Bauhaus

Just read a book ‘B Is For Bauhaus’ by Deyan Sudjic. It’s a book about understanding contemporary culture and design.

Here’s some interesting things I found in the book that will be relevant to my report.

On our relationships with our possessions,

The collecting impulse is universal, and it goes on to the roots of what is it to be human. It pre-dates mass production and design, but it reveals the essential nature of our relationship with our possessions, how they communicate with us, and the various ways in which we value them. understanding the nature of collecting tells us something about ourselves as well as the nature of things.

To collect any object, we have traded in the original meaning and are looking for something else from them.

The journal is a repository of memories and events. These are also considered possessions. When I look at my archive again, I find myself looking for something else from the words and drawings that I’ve made over the years. Many times I draw the comparison between the person I am then, and now. These are markings that indicate my growth as a person and a creative.

We collect possessions to comfort ourselves, from addiction and to measure out the passing of our lives. We collect because we are drawn to the subtler pleasure of nostalgia for the recent past, and the memory of far-distant history. We collect sometimes to signal our distress and console ourselves in our inability to deal with the world. These are the motivations that designers need to understand, and the qualities which they manipulate when they create objects, whatever their nominal function.

I’m particular drawn to the point he made about distress and consoling ourselves. This year I hardly made any drawings. My journals are filled instead with writing that I made in order to try to understand my own FYP concept better. I also find myself grappling with the struggle of being with a young adult. Time and finance are the resources that have to keep competing with each other, and it makes me feel frustrated. I find that I must divide my time and attention each week to work commitments, FYP, and spending time with friends and family. I look at my older journals and I find that I lost the luxury to make the drawings and writings that I used to. I rarely have the time to feel bored anymore, each moment is dedicated to keeping up with my to-do list. I guess it’s one of the reasons why I needed to deactivate myself from social media. In becoming a young adult, some of these juvenile struggles have definitely (and thankfully) faded away, but along with that, I also lose the need to make artwork about these things. But that’s not to say that I need to be some kind of angsty youth to fuel my creative process. Looking at my journal archive also makes me realise that I sometimes need to not give a damn, and occasionally make some impulsive artwork that makes no sense. To think like a child again.

Collecting is in one sense about remembering, but the digital world never lets us forget anything. Paradoxically, it has also undermined our ability to remember. Our email and text trails will last as long as the server farms that have already conferred a kind of immortality on anybody with a Twitter account.”

This point is definitely relevant to the virtual part of my work. My project is split between my virtual and physical archives. It documents the relationships made online and off.

We remember where we started from online, because the date is recorded when we first made friends on the virtual realm. Green buttons tell me that I know you from a measurable distance. Conversations are trivialized with the advent of animated and very expressive egg man oyster cat girl stickers. Grids of photos let me glimpse into your life and I could say yeah I guess I know you. How many backspaces will it take to bring me back to when there were no green buttons? When your status is set to Away on MSN? Remember the time I told you I was playing The Sims and you told me how you got rid of your Sims? And then you said you were going to build some furniture for your room over the break. And then the conversation ended and the next time I went online there were no traces of the conversation happening. Despite being given a chance to keep an archive of the chat, nobody really goes to the effort to do so. And now we can go back as far as we wish to and point out the beginning of everything. Everything is laid out and easily accessible, pictures and words and the little green circle next to your name. Archiving comes easier for all of us, collecting data is as easy as typing hello to you. The question is how much of this is worth remembering and archiving. You may not remember, but the Internet remembers for you.

On being a Netartizen (Google)

Photo 14-8-15 8 11 29 amI think as part of a generation of active social media users, we are surely Net Citizens. But as creatives, how can we take a step further and use social media as a form of art? The Internet can be considered an artistic medium. Whether the outcome of the work is interactive or static, there are really endless things one can do with the Internet and to make artwork with it. I took this photo of a tshirt I saw a lady wearing on the bus a few days ago. It reminds me of how sometimes my friends and I joke that we don’t need boyfriends because Google knows everything. Looking at this tshirt design, I actually started thinking about how Google is a really powerful tool that has a lot of potential to be an artwork by itself.


Here’s a screenshot I took when I key in the words “why am I” into the search bar. The predictions are very funny. It makes me think about how Google could be everybody’s confession box. These predictions are possible because of the popularity of these questions being asked, which if you think about it, is quite the result of a kind of networked practice by the whole world. (Clearly, everybody worries about being alone forever.)

Google’s products and services are becoming more interactive than before. They provide many opportunities for people to turn its uses into artistic mediums. Google Drive is a good example of collaborative practice. And there are already people out there who make artworks of of its services, like these postcards from Google Earth.

Millions of people use Google everyday, every hour, and unknowingly, they become an art collective of sorts as well as part of a post-modern commentary on our society and our way of life.







My friend said this to me lately, “Beverley, when I look at your Instagram, you don’t seem to have photos of you and your friends. You make others think that you are better off living life by yourself, with your objects and whatever it is you are making.”

It was a timely thing to hear that from her, as I recently rediscover an old project that I made some time ago called Instadiaries. I made it when I started clearing my iPhone camera roll and found that there are many images I’ve captured which I had intended to share on my Instagram but I didn’t, because they didn’t fit in with the rest of the pictures I had already posted.

I would say this project makes me think about my participation on the virtual space and how that affects my way of documentation over recent years. When I write on my personal blog, I always feel that I am making conversation with a virtual abyss, and I never really feel that I had to censor myself or curate my words. If I were unhappy with myself, I could be very honest about what it is that made me unhappy and then I will read what I wrote again the following day and I could make a change about myself. I know there is not really anybody out there who is a constant reader of my blog. People are generally more interested in the pictures shared on Instagram or Facebook. But when I share a photo on my Instagram, I know that people do look at it and respond to it. And because I know it isn’t an entirely complete representation of who I am, sometimes I would rather not share at all.

Maybe some of us have experienced this phenomenon that seem to have taken over the users of Instagram at some point. We become quite particular about the way our pictures look on Instagram. Some users prefer to keep the original aspect ratios of their photos, square crops be damned. Some are really good at doing flat lays and enjoy arranging objects in a neat, stylish fashion to demonstrate their taste. The list goes on. There is nothing wrong with this, and some users have an attractive feed for their specific interests because of their careful curation. At one point, I was also very particular about how my pictures look together on Instagram, which made me wonder why I should. It is quite pretentious and honestly there were plenty of pictures that I would like to share online but I didn’t. I thought of how people enjoy the feed that I was sharing then, and something different might make them disinterested. More than that, I was ashamed to admit that I could allow social media to influence my decision in something so trivial such as sharing a photo I like a lot. So, as a result, I deleted my Instagram for a while, and made a project about it.

I collated some of my favourite photos taken in a month (the project unfortunately lasted for only about three months), and added some of the writing I made in the month as well.

Some pictures of the project:



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Each Instadiary is A4 size, printed on both sides on Ikea paper.Photo 16-8-15 11 34 38 am Photo 16-8-15 11 34 54 am

Some poor experimentation of layout.Photo 16-8-15 11 35 00 am Photo 16-8-15 11 35 16 am Photo 16-8-15 11 35 25 am Photo 16-8-15 11 35 30 amI think this could be something I can continue to look into. I’m not so much interested in the implications of social media or looking deep into how that affects our relationship with one another, but I am definitely keen on researching how that affects the way we look and present ourself. I also want to make comparisons between this manner of sharing with what I started wit: blogging and making friends on Internet forums.