The Beauty of the Basics

The hands, ears, eyes, and mouth are the essential elements of communication. In my recent work, I have been focusing on the removal of these sensory extremities from the body for the sake of recognizing the power we have over the productivity of these individual forms. We are constantly either controlling mouths to speak our significance, working with our hands to convey our essence without words, or utilizing eyes and ears to consume inspiration for our actions. We have complete control over the spirit we radiate to the rest of the world with the practice of successful vitality over the fundamental interactive forms of the body.

Not only do I believe in the power of communication, I also strive to rejoice in it. We are humans made for other humans. We are specifically made to communicate face-to-face and exchange ideas with each other. Every interaction we have is purposeful because we were purposefully made for one another. It is important to commemorate our purpose as a whole along with the personal responsibility we hold over ourselves. I sought out to create a project to emphasize this idea of singular accountability in conjunction with the notion of togetherness. These concepts together present the opportunity to promote positivity through the realization of the union of individuals and the communion of souls.

In the beginning stages of execution, I collected RAW images of the essential elements of communication from various people over the course of the semester. I received assistance from many friends and classmates who generously let me push my camera into their personal spaces. Then, I removed each of these parts from their bodies in Photoshop to create a collection of diverse hands, ears, eyes, and mouths in order to highlight our individual purpose and the power we hold over these sensory elements. Next, I further manipulated the dismembered body parts in Photoshop to alter and enhance the fleshy tones of the subjects. The accentuation of a celebratory theme was achieved through the use of radiant, prismatic, and exuberant colors.

Afterwards, I used this isolation along with obsessive repetition of the communicative forms to compile a collage of all of these body parts to suggest the idea of togetherness. I then animated the collage with the help of my roommate, Amanda Bourgeois, who is graduating with a degree in digital art this December. The idea of the animation was to create an enthusiastic environment that would eventually become interactive by growing and responding based on the amount of communication in the room. As people trickle in, and the interaction increases, the amount of essential elements of the human form will mirror the productivity of the space. An exciting environment of repetition and movement will be achieved when interaction is at a high point, which will encourage communication within the viewers. This presents endless possibilities between personalities to collaborate. When interaction is not being engaged, the animation will respond to this lifelessness through the removal of the vast amount of sensory elements. In the silence, the communicative forms will also fall flat from the chosen celebratory colors.

The main inspiration of this piece was pulled directly from Daniel Canogar, a Spanish artist currently working with video, photography, sculpture, and installation. I was drawn most to Canogar’s digital print, “Palpitaciones” , and digital wallpaper, “Horror Vacui” , which were created in the late 90’s. Canogar seems to share the same fixation for the human form in both of these works by merging hands into structures and also creating composite collages. Although not interactive or participatory, these digital stills became the starting point for my creative process.

While speaking of “Horror Vacui”, Christiane Paul describes that the interlocked hands suggest dismemberment and the creation of an ‘other’ as an organic whole processed by technology. In order to accentuate human interaction, I took this idea of dismemberment and used my own vocabulary of communicative body parts, rather than focusing on one form. Therefore, I was able to successfully convey a celebration of human interaction through technology rather than suggesting the creation of new forms.

As Canogar describes “Horror Vacui”, he expresses, “The obsessive search for the tactile in the space of representation, and the viral multiplication of the digital image, are fundamental concepts in this piece.” I built on these primary components and used Canogar’s viral multiplication instead with communicative forms to create and encourage an environment full of familiar human interaction. Repetition at this scale easily indicates an underlying theme of togetherness. Consequently, the space is found occupied with celebrated forms in a known environment rather than holding a desire to search for something tactile in a space of representation.

In today’s society, we are quick to turn to technology for answers rather than face-to-face communication. We are constantly consumed with our smart phones and music devices and computer screens rather than the environment that surrounds us. Children today are playing on gaming consoles and hand held devices rather than playing outside with their friends. Instead of asking loved ones for advice, today we turn to Google and other search engines to figure out our problems. Technology has completely altered our definition of interaction and I strive to stay grounded in a world full of screens.

Although many artists find stability through the encouragement of new media and technology, I contrastingly find stability through other humans and human interaction. This idea juxtaposes with many artists’ concepts of the digital era. For example, Stelarc is creating what he calls “a new hybrid human” through the creation of mechanical forms implanted into the body. He is attaching new machinery, such as robotic arms, to natural bodies in search of a new being. These experiments convey efforts to harmonize technological and organic components in diverse and nuanced ways. Rather than focusing on new communicative forms that technology may lend itself to, I am using technology to go back to the basics of the beauty humanity holds to encourage solutions that have already been given to us.

Innovations in technology have extensively increased our outlets of communication and are considered some of the most significant turning points in human civilization. We are now able to interact with anyone in the world instantly through e-mail, text messages, and other outlets known as computer-mediated communication (CMC). Although this instant gratification of the exchange of ideas through CMC is definitely something to be praised, I am using technology to instead inspire important interpersonal physical communication. The beauty of traditional communication elements will always outshine the possibilities CMC presents because through face-to-face interaction, we are able to convey tone of voice and facial expressions not suited for computer screens. Technology is not yet able to incorporate such things, which often leads to decreased quality of outcomes of collaborative tasks. I believe using technology to encourage conventional communication is more productive to today’s society because we are all too often preoccupied with screens rather than the people that surround us.

This project could have improved if I had the skill set of an interactive artist. To fully realize this project, there needs to be sensors surveying the crowd with an audio component to measure conversation and interaction in the viewing space. Programming would allow the animation to respond to the information collected by the sensors making the flashing communicative forms interactive with the audience. I executed the project as far as I could, considering I am an artist primarily working with traditional printmaking techniques. I hope to fully execute this project in the future in collaboration with an artist who encompasses the skill set needed to accomplish an interactive installation.

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