How ‘identity’ is represented

‘The Face of Tomorrow’ is a project which features a series of photographs that ‘addresses the effects of globalisation on humanity’. By using technology to mix photographs of people’s faces, Mike Mike generates a single male and female

face that represents the general cultural identity of the city. For instance, the face of Sydney supposedly shows hints of nationalities such as British, Italian, Greek, Lebanese, South African, Chinese and Vietnamese.

What I found interesting about this project is the artist’s use of faces to represent identity. The artist suggests that the unique facial

features of each individual represents a different background or cultural identity, and by fusing these ‘cultural identities’, he reflects the effects of globalisation on the city. Whilst the use of faces to represent identity is seemingly superficial, I think it is a bold, simple and effective way of questioning the cultural identity of each city in a time of increasing globalisation.

 


Interactive site – reflection of identity?

http://www.bubole.pl/#/en/create_new_bubol/

This interactive comic site allows the user to create their own monster and character for a game. It presents us with various choices of features such as the mouth, body, ideas, colour etc. While the site is very simple and comical in its concept, I think that the options it provides for us to create our own characters for a game encourages individuality and thus, it is a reflection of how we want to present ourselves – an idea I want to explore in my own site – is how we choose to present ourselves a reflection of who we are?


Harnessing technology to create ‘things that would otherwise would be impossible’.

This idea of taking art beyond the canvas is explored in ‘The Future of Art’ as we are introduced to the ‘technological solution’. Accessing the internet for my social networking or research related needs; I never considered the use of the internet as an artistic medium of self expression. Thus, I was amazed by the ways in which the many interviewed artists had harnessed technology to create “things that otherwise would be impossible”.

While I was watching the film, I thought about the sense of invincibility the internet provides to the user, and how it would encourage people to exploit this benefit with ‘over the top’ ideas. Yet, can one objectively use the term ‘over the top’ in the world of artistic expression? The short film ‘The Future of Art’ answers this very question through Koblin’s assertion that the internet “lets us create our own limitations” which are “generally more meaningful”. Indeed in some instances, being forced to set our own limitations drives us to evaluate the purpose of the work on a more profound level. Yet, there are always going to be a few occasions in which the artist gets lost in the technology, and essentially, lost in the concept of their work.

One of the interviewees explores this issue as she claims that artists often get sidetracked by the complexity of the technology with which they are working and lose sight of their vision. She claims that there “has to be a reason why [the] technology is being used to somehow support or enhance the meaning or beauty of what you’re making”.

Yet, despite such minor disadvantages, I can only respond optimistically to the use of technology in art as I realise that ‘the future of art’ is indeed a path of creative invincibility. Further emphasising  such artistic freedom is how we could “throw away something that could have taken weeks to make without feeling any sense of investment and start anew”. Certainly, the use of the ‘undo tool’ and the intangible nature of the internet are integral to web-art, for in my opinion, it is these two features of the internet that renders the web-artist invincible.

What I found particularly interesting in the video “The Future of Art” is Gabrielle Shalom’s work, which involved splashing buckets of paint on the street. The colourful trails formed as buses, cars and trucks drove through the street compelled me to realise that art is not merely limited to the frame of a canvas. Ultimately, this artwork suggests that art is the expression of emotion and experience and Shalom’s simple idea of spilling paint on streets allows the responder to share her experience and gain an insight into her vision of “making the world a better place”.

 


Interesting website – is it really presenting identity?

I came across this website called http://www.thewakingheart.com’ which then leads to http://www.abc.net.au/tv/phillipafinch/#/HeartWorks. It is a website based on the ABC television program ‘The Gradual Demise of Phillipa Finch’.

What I think makes this site successful, is the way it has reflected the cartoon’s storyline through its graphics and function. Furthermore, the site design has effectively captured the sinister undertones through the seemingly heartwarming, happy graphics – a style unique to the cartoon. The graphics being used for the website are identical to the cartoon, and elements of the cartoon’s story are incorporated into the website such as the graphic of the main character flying while sitting in a tea cup is used to take us from one page to the next. The web pages themselves are interactive and have a ‘collaged’ effect.

However, what makes this website special is its function. Ultimately, it is a website that encourages individual expression and portrays identity. The site asks the user to express themselves and their emotions in order to ‘bring [Philipa Finch] to the land of the emotionally fulfilled’. While corresponding with the cartoon’s storyline, this gives the user the opportunity to graphically present their emotions, and in turn, their identity. The user would express their emotions by creating a ‘heartwork’ – an abstract visual artwork that is generated by the user’s emotions.

The heartworksthe users create online are sent to an interactive drawing machine set up in a book shop where the drawing machine forms a large collective artwork that is a ‘physical representation of the user community’s shared emotions’. The site also has a special feature where a camera is set up in front of the drawing machine, to record your emotions being physically drawn in a book shop. While portraying the identity of the main character, the wakingheart.com invites users to express themselves, ‘giving the public the opportunity to contribute to her story’.

Yet how effective are computer drawings in communicating who we are and how we are feeling? The ‘heartworks’ are created by using a template. The work is created according to an individual’s answers to 6 questions. Thus, the user’s individual expression is limited to the site design, and perhaps this may actually suppress individual expression rather than encourage it!

This website was definitely a great find as I work on my own site. My website design criticises this very quality of facebook – the idea of using a similar template which limits the individual to how they can present themselves. Are we really defined by a mere profile picture and ‘informations’ page? Or is it our username, and ‘tagged photos’ that truly presents who we are?


Twitter – comparing social networking sites

Website: Twitter

Twitter is an interesting social networking site, as its primary focus is microblogging. Twitter does not focus on the expression of identity; rather, it focuses on one of the aspects that defines an individual – their thoughts and opinions. Like ‘Facebook Posts’ and unlike ‘MySpace Blogs’, Twitter gives users the opportunity to express their opinions and thoughts in a quick short message. The tweeting function suggests that the primary factor that defines who we are, is the way we think.

While the website has a strong focus on presenting one aspect of who we are, I think that the ‘retweeting’ function contradicts the purpose of the site. While it is important to deal with the inevitability that any two people around the world are going to share thoughts about a particular matter, does re-publishing or re-using someone else’s thoughts or opinions on a page suppress individual expression? While I think that reposting someone else’s thoughts word-for-word on your page contradicts the focus of the site, I do not think it eliminates the uniqueness of each individual, as in the real world beyond the internet, it is inevitable that people are going to have similarities in different aspects of who they are such as the way they look , their favourite colour, similar opinions on a matter…but it is the combination of all these different aspects that form an individual and distinguish one from the other.


theme driving site narrative

Knowing I do a subject called web art and design, my friend told me about the graphics of Alannah Hill’s fashion-design website. I really liked the consistent theme and framework of the site and how it was used as the driving force of the site’s narrative. The site is based on an interactive image of a garden with different objects. Each object moves as the user scrolls his mouse over it, followed by an animation if you click on the object itself. To navigate through the website pages, a ‘garden map’ is provided in the bottom right corner. As the user clicks on the place on the map they want to visit, the image of the garden pans to a scene of another garden – it is a smooth transition between the two pages!


A Deconstruction of Facebook


The Easter Egg- literally deconstructing Facebook

Final Concept and Website – a deconstruction of Facebook

Are we really defined by a mere profile picture and ‘informations’ page? Or is it our username, and ‘tagged photos’ that truly present who we are?

My final website explores a similar concept to ‘Google Gravity’ as it deconstructs a website we all know so well and use so often. By simply altering small elements on Facebook – a seemingly harmless website we use on a daily basis – I want to allow the user to perceive Facebook differently, which will in turn, question the effectiveness of the website in portraying identities. Ultimately, I want to compel the user to reconsider the way they curate their profiles and present their identities to others in general.

Like Google Gravity, my website will initially present the familiar Facebook homepage, but after the user clicks ‘log in’, elements of the site will change, surprising and confusing the user. Both the information text and the photos have been arranged in a chaotic, disorganised fashion in order to overwhelm and confuse the user, once again questioning the effectiveness of Facebook in connecting people and displaying identities. This deliberate jumbling of Facebook toolbars and elements directly challenges the neat, rigid structure of the Facebook page, whereby the users are limited to the site’s given features such as ‘photos’, ‘info’ and ‘wall’.

Each page on the site provides only one option on the ‘jumbled’ toolbar, forcing the user to a set sequence of pages. By forcing a set sequence of pages, my website reflects how Facebook limits the user in the way they present themselves, as they are limited to the site’s given template.

My website has a very simple page sequence and structure in order to mirror the simplicity that Facebook strives to achieve through its page layout and site navigation.

  • By swapping the password asterisk text with the normal text for the username log-in, I want to suggest that perhaps our true identity lies in what we choose to hide about ourselves rather than what we choose to show.
  • Furthermore, by separating ‘Face’ and ‘Book’ on each page, I want to further highlight the duality between who we are vs how we present ourselves.

Furthermore, an ‘easter egg’ has been placed on the top right hand side of the ‘Info’ page, where the pages will eventually lead the user back to an altered homepage where all the elements of the Facebook Homepage are crashing down – a literal deconstruction of Facebook. There is no link that allows the user to leave the page, as I want to further enhance the idea that Facebook’s limited number features constraints the user.