exercise 4_3: a meme

 

exercise: Taking inspiration from an image or idea you’ve researched, create your own photographic response to an internet meme. This may be something original, or your own interpretation of an existing meme. It might be funny or profound, but it should make people want to look at it and share it.

 

Having used Facebook rather extensively as interface for my final assignments, I over time sought out various meme pages and explored some of the forms in which memes are generated, repeated, altered, and circulated.

— What follows is a fairly narrow selection of the memes that interest me and the sites that post them. In that, many of them are political, are at points offensive, and at other points targeting a rather particular audience (like Freud Quotes, Shit Academics Say or Zlazloj.zizek, which is Slavoj Zizek extensive experiments in social media form). The other type of memes I was interested in are those that are ironic takes on both memes and the wider context of YOLO (you only live ones), these are the inspirobot.me and Vapid Daily.

Politics, narcissism and social media practice

Zlazloj.zizek, Zizek’s page (and numerous other pages like I would prefer not to, Disturbing Books, Freud Quotes seem all fairly closely interconnected, often reposting each others posts, so for many of the memes, there is a iteration and redundancy in my feed, which reinforces, repeats, reminds).

Zizek in particular explores the edges of taste, the futility of love (which I take to be an attack on current strands of feminist politics around care, self-care and a renewed focus on social reproduction) and above all the scope for narcissism in social media form. These two are examples of this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both reference popular films (It and Fifty Shades of Grey), depict key stills from these and insert Zizek as protagonist: as monstrous clown Pennywise (who is very much to be feared) and as the subject of Christian Grey’s unconventional desire. In both these scenes, the meme works because it requires an audience’s familiarity with the plot development, the actuality of appropriate fear vis-a-vis Pennywise and that Grey’s desires are of sexual domination (and having a female submissive partner). The first, Pennywise, meme, subverts the plotline by altering the text (in written, not spoken form), the second one does so by inserting a new still, of Zizek in bed, sitting proud in front of a picture of Stalin.

The joke? The dangers of communism as spectre and Zizek as controversial character.

Bottom Leftist Memes does something rather different. It is one of the few pages on FB that I have encountered that explicitly discusses (gay and submissive) sex and desire within a left anarchist political context. Its content features often the page admin’s own graphic drawings, besides some reposting, some other memes and some political commentary. The posts for some time feature a text description of the images which is thoughtful, hilarious and a tech commentary on the inability of FB to provide appropriate text captioning for its image (i.e. there is a commentary about accessibility contained in these.

I use an example which isn’t sexually explicit, for others, go and visit the page.

The post reads:

CW discussion of violence; poorly drawn Nazi symbolism]
What are you getting so worked up about
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.
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[ Image description: Drawings of a person wearing a red swastika armband and heiling; a person with a 1488 forehead tattoo; a sharply-dressed guy with a suit and tie and a Pepe the Frog pin; a person wearing a KKK hood; somebody waving a Kekistan flag; some kid wearing a Pepe mask and holding an anime girl body pillow; and a guy wearing a red baseball cap that I was too lazy to write MAGA on but you know that’s what it’s supposed to be. Text reads: “Hahaha don’t you feel silly? 6 out of these 7 “quote-unquote” “”””NAZIS”””” are only joking, and only one of them would actually beat you to death with a baseball bat in real life. Have fun guessing which one! ]

 

 

 

 

Vapid inspirations and artificial intelligence

Vapid Daily is a page that composes and circulates vapid inspirational quotes (not) on a daily basis.

I only see these occasionally in my feed, their overblown visuals and the trashy font type generally make me smile, the text often is painfully accurate. They are clearly carefully constructed as such.

Late June I came across a bot that is designed to provide inspirational quotes, inspirobot.me . I came across it as there as a fair bit of media coverage as to the nonsensical, often offensive nature of its inspirational quotes, of getting it wrong how a meme, an inspiration works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I generated a few quotes here and there, and over the past fortnight started to do so more systematically, with a friend setting a shared facebook album to collect (via screenshot a few of these). The album is called bat rum (once), a word play on bot romance, as the aspect of romance, desire and social interaction was one that initially interested me most. With some of the memes being so offensive and rude, I soon set up a second, more private album called bot romance (the m files), m standing for misogyny, morals and mother (?). My friend and I would generally share our finds via messenger, I would often upload them to be shared with her and my friends. A comment a few days ago pointed to the narcissist, individualised, neoliberal logic of many of the quotes, but also that our posting was needing a trigger warning: you are about to be hit on the head with some neoliberal inspirational sledgehammer. This exchange led me to the following as GIF (though the format is strictly an MP4, a video, but it consists of two images, one a myriad of inspirobot images, too small to be read, yet relentless, the other one a simple phone drawing about the need to be inspired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ironically, while each of the inspirobot memes gets some likes, noone has liked my meme so far 😮 — or: perhaps not ironically but fairly fittingly.

 

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Jeff Wall (1979) Picture for Women [A1/ office at night revisions]

— one of the references for exploring further what is contained in the material that formed the first assignment.

As my tutor points out: it is a retaking of Edouard Manet’s (1982) A Bar at the Folies-Bergère and its complex viewpoints. The multiplicity of the gaze is the one that my tutor picked up from the digital montages of the initial submission.

The Courtauld website points towards a series of themes: the bar as site for drinking and meeting prostitutes, described by a contemporary as ‘umixed joy’. The sternness of the central figures expression does not match that description (and also sits at odds with the bustle visible in the mirror behind her. Also: we, as viewer, stand in the place of a man depicted solely in reflection. That the reflection of his face and her back is skewed, shifted too far to the right, is one of the points for discussion.

Jeff Wall’s remaking of the bar scene moves the setting into either a classroom, a dance studio or another, not quite defined, space. Again, we can assume there is a mirror, through which we see the whole scene. In the dead centre of it, a large format camera. A woman to our left, a man, identified as Wall himself to the right, looking at the woman (or, perhaps more precisely, her back). We see it is nighttime: the window front in the back shows a dark outside, overhead are several bare light bulbs. The woman stands still, seems to look at herself in reflection (or indeed at us?), Walls seems to be suspended in a walking movement, is he holding something in his hand?

It is a place of activity, foremost: that of the making of a photograph; i.e. it is the workplace of a photographer (Wall), and still, what else is going here? Is she model? As women at that time in such a space would be. Knowing the origin in Manet’s painting, I realise that I am asking myself too as to what the sexual relationship between the two are. Is there one? Is my wondering intended?

Campany, in the short video clip about the book he published on this single work also relates Wall’s work to Hitchcock’s voyeurism, and outlines the circumstance that this was a large-scale back-lit gallery installation, not a photograph as print. Also: a single work, not a series or a body of work.

[I have ordered the book and will take a closer read of this, as I realise that the Office at Night will remain an ongoing project beyond the remits of this module and assignment

 

The sex was over (Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay 2014)

[posted as this on FB, 3/7/2017, 17:24pm to Friends – Acquaintances]

Social work training 9/6/2017
Sanctions
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[no further entry]
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2/7/2017
The things we learn in the shadows
blindfold as fetish
Benny’s lover’s legs. His longing for these legs.
‘Do you remember who I am?’
‘You were editing a video of mine.’
‘Yes, I told you that I have been watching you for weeks before we first met in that bathroom, alone, blindfolded.’
.
.
‘We have been cruising each other for many years’.

[this marks the last contextual piece for the line. in fact, it marks an opening and designates the line as a transitional piece, not just between the Cross and the Grasses but to an elsewhere]
.
[a key element of this piece below is not part of this post, so let me tell you about it: the audio/visual below plays in a darkened room, there are about 15 people sitting in various places in the room; they have watched, listened to 90 mins of a dialogue, performance, movement between Liz Rosenfeld and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay talking about their private and professional cruising of gay male spaces; the conversation ends with The sex is over, and features a single male dancer, who in this case is self-conscious ‘I am not a dancer’, but nonetheless moves between us and the beat for the duration of the a/v]

 

Assignment 4: no | shadow | secrets

[this is the draft of the extended project which will be resolved as Assignment 5. As some of its content is still in process, I have sent a personal note directly to my tutor, which I will leave out here for the time being].

I am including the draft statement, a short summary on contextual influences, an outline of what I still see as work to be done, the reflection on the assessment criteria (see further down) as well as the following image files:

  • contact sheets for the currently considered full set of images
  • a series of full-size jpgs of both digital phone camera and MF analogue images
  • a couple of installation setups for how I see the work as being presented.

Contact sheets

(of the main section with image title; the two static sites – Whitworth Grasses and Partick Cross as layout suggestion):

A sample of printed images

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 Installation views (from eventual left to right: Partick Cross, Main section, Whitworth Grasses)

IMG_20170330_153616IMG_20170330_124432IMG_20170217_144539

Draft statement

no | shadow | secrets (working title) presents as a sprawling, extending and expanding body of work of small-scale prints. It also is excessive: there is no space for all of the prints, so some remain, as a cache, to the side of it. It is indeterminate in a sense as it is installed on a wall space: the shapes and patterns of the prints can be recombined, leading to varied associations that the means of juxtaposition, proximity and distance between the various images make with each other. Nonetheless, the themes remain: it is about movement, about iteration and variation (maybe even about a Deleuzian repetition and difference), it is about an investigation of shadow shapes in various locations. Many images are of night-time movements: often on foot, along known urban routes, sometimes through car or train windows. The people that inform these images are referenced, none of them is visible (even though they may be present just outside the frame). Talking about the frame, the excessive abundance of no | shadow | secrets at the same time marks boundaries and edges: as subject matter, e.g. the roadworks along a long stretch of Oxford Road, but even more so of the photographic frame: with all its visibility, each image alludes simultaneously to what is left off, left out. The framing device and orientation of the environmental images, taken on both a digital phone as well as a medium format film camera, defy expectations of landscape vistas once these are rotated or cropped to a portrait orientation or indeed enframed by an egalitarian square (cf Fay Godwin). And still, and still: the (my) shadow remains, even if only moving through fleetingly; sometimes too, my feet.

This series is also attempting to translate experiences of online digital interactions (notably through a facebook feed and timeline, bounded to different privacy settings) into urban space. It traces and replicates its boundaries, its excess and abundance, its fleetingness, a number of transgressions, some disregard, some posing and posturing. Similarly, the production value of the images is on one level that of digital phone camera images, as jpgs often rather aggressively post-processed in camera which mingle with more considered, slower and carefully shot, selected and edited medium format analogue images.

Contextual influences:

Fay Godwin: square format for landscape photography
Vivian Sassen: UMBRA (shadows and book format with hiddne pockets); also interdisciplinary panel
Andy Warhol: Shadow series (notably those with diamond dust)
Ed Krasinski: Intervention in the Tate Liverpool show: a blue band linking disparate elements within a room; also: the shadows casts by mobiles
Tracy Emin’s My Bed
Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights
Calle, Goldin, Akerman as per Critical Essay

What is missing/ remains to be done:

  • decide on final set and post-process (notably MF images)
  • how to write about this? I would like to write a statement which takes the form of a short theory fiction piece (possibly moving along some of the images)
  • a screen print in 6×4 (possibly a simpler one than the shadows + movement blur in the one currently employed)
  • are there other forms of display/ installation? E.g., a book format, or a box?
  • elaborate the resonance of this vis-a-vis digital identities further, notably in relation to use of FB boundaries, publicness and privacy (but also: overwhelm, movement, non-linearity)

Reflection on Assessment criteria reflection

Demonstration of technical and visual skills (35%)

This is the most extensive and expansive body of work presented for this module so far. It developed over a series of months and started initially with fairly simple camera sketches and movement studies (phone camera). It developed from there as a continually expanding set of images and themes, revisited and refined with both the phone camera as well as then translated into MF analogue format. There are primarily two types of images: movement studies and stand-alone individually composed stills. The latter are in part part of small independent series (e.g. #aroseisaroseisaroseisarose; gallery shadows/ reflections, or from a series of winter lights decoration in the North German countryside); others are taken along familiar routes and refined over a series of walks and honing in on composition, the role of a variety of lights, and the presence of shadow shapes. The day-time images were devised after a study visit in an unknown location (Manchester, around the University) and then revisited with different camera and a more refined research agenda.

Quality of outcome (20%)

As with a set of analogue images that I developed alongside the Critical Essay (These Summer Images, a selection of which was presented to the OCA study group in August 2016), this project developed out of a practice of taking photos, reflecting and refining these over an extended period of time until a coherent theme and purpose for the project had become clear. In doing so, I am building both on my experience on pursuing visual interests around lens-based formats: notably the availability of a high quality camera phone and the ability to operate within the specific requirements of a MF analogue camera. Pursuing these two route at the same time allowed me to bridge digital and analogue in a form that I initially explored in the Critical Essay but also which is resonant of my exploration of online digital identities (moving online and offline with material posted and explored within various boundaries of a Facebook timeline). Choosing the presentation format as a wall full of small scale prints that meander, conjoin and develop off of each other is a format that chimes well for these concerns: expansiveness, excess, cheap print (as in posting small size images on FB, often to be viewed on handheld devices). The forms in which I want to discuss the content of the project are still in draft form (and, due to the nature of the project) also subject to some form of veiling or boundary drawing. I hope to resolve these for the final form of the project.

Demonstration of creativity (25%)

The working process of creating and reflecting and refining a large series of work required a systematic going back and forth between materials as well as also trusting in my ability to do so, not to lose a sense of overview or purpose as well as being able to select the most successful images. That these work in a variety of groupings within the large set speaks to me to the success of that approach; the format of the images supports this and while I am proposing the main form of presentation to be a wall installation, I have given some initial thought to other formats and would like to explore these further still for the second part of the project

Context (20%)

Different to Assignment 1, this assignment is largely built out of the material that I was collecting and its subsequent reflection, refinement and repositioning. The sources that inspired me to pursue and explore (as well as dismiss, notably the angle on secrets) the emerging themes and their refinement are varied across the visual arts and constitute in my mind a strong and successful frame of reference for this project while noone dominates the work in such a way that this is a work in the spirit of artist x, or similar. I am aware that my blog has not reflected a large part of the exercises for this assignment and while I have explored the themes (notably Foucault’s work on the Panopticon but also his work on sexuality; and its relationship to more psychoanalytical work on desire; and the shaping of these by algorithms), these haven’t been written up yet.

Studio SMACK (2016) Paradise and Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights (c1495-1505)

 

Seeing this animation first time a couple of weeks ago, the FB feed has reintroduced me, just as I had come back from my fielwork for taking analog images for the current assignment.

This time round, I looked more closely at Bosch’s original painting and some of its interpretations: earthly sin, the fall of (wo)man; notions of earthly pleasure or innocence, or in fact an ironic commentary on the Habsburg Empire’s pursuits of earthly delights.

What interests me in this?

  • the contemporary interpretation in format/medium as digital animation of one the key pieces in the Western art historical canon
  • the overflowing mess and abundance of the imagery, its animation and the inability to take it all in.
  • the theme of pleasure/desire

All these, in different forms are relevant to my current assignment work.

I ordered a recent publication on Bosch’s original work, mainly for the high quality reproductions of the details in the painting and a sense of current state of interpretation of this work which has been interpreted so vastly differently over time.

I will update this post with some more research details as they emerge.

Below a high resolution image of Bosch’s original work (source: https://uploads6.wikiart.org/images/hieronymus-bosch/the-garden-of-earthly-delights-1515-7.jpg)

 

the-garden-of-earthly-delights-1515-7.jpeg

Archives are making me all feverish

I spent the last couple of days pulling together and finishing some reading around archives. As before, the coursebook is extensive in its designated reading materials:

Owkui Enwezor (2008) Archive fever: Photography between history and the monument, published as a standalone text but it looks to be part of the catalogue of the exhibition with the same name.

Allan Sekula (1986) The body and the archive. Republished in Richard Bolton (ed) The Contest of meaning, pp 342-388

— are the two main ones, comprising about 100 pages of text. Sekula’s text is academic, Enwezor’s after some conceptual arguments an overview of the artists and their works contained in the exhibition.

There are also:

J. Fontcuberta’s Archive Noises in one of the course’s key texts, ibid. (2014) Pandora’s Camera.

There are a few more relating to the family album, Flickr and curation (also part of this section of the course). But let’s stay with the archive.

I had begun reading Sekula, rather excitedly a couple of months ago and only now returned after reading Archive Fever. I also remembered that the core of both their arguments draws extensively on Michel Foucault’s theses on the desire for the production of knowledge, his body of work around Discipline and Punish and wider archaeology of knowledge. It’s curious to revisit this body of work that so strongly provided a theoretical lens for my PhD work, and which I had put aside for more than ten years.

Sekula in particular presents a political argument over the dangers of social control premised on cataloging and archiving ‘the criminal’, who, of course in the process is in fact produced. In this, his classic text is a great contribution towards socio-legal studies and a strong challenge towards any assumption of naivety in the providing the visual representations of existing and desired penal regimes.

>> I can take from it the intersection of ethnography, the catalogue and institutional desires for completeness and in such completeness to regulate and control deviancy

>> He also strongly outlines the problem of volume and incompleteness for any archive (and the impulses that thus tend to undermine its functionality); arguments over the availability of CCTV surveillance images are e.g. a contemporary case in point.

 

Enwezor’s text is much more of a curatorial survey, claiming authorial overview and conceptual strength while in fact providing (a not uninteresting) path through a body of work and a number of artists. Some of the points to consider involve:

  • order/disorder as key theme for any archive
  • archives providing testimony and witness function (but for this they need to be legitimated)
  • one of the most interesting observations were those referencing Foucault: how archives turn documents into monuments, and as such construct a key temporal relationship between and object and its past (p. 23); Enwezor points towards Craigie Horsfield’s body of work, with negatives being printed, once only, often several years after the image was taken. He compares it with Stan Douglas’s Overture (1986) which provides two early films in a loop and thus emphasises ‘cycical temporality’ (p. 25), pointing out also that mechanical time re-iterates while human time (not sure what this is, though) operates by means of memory (ibid).
  • the role of public memories of archives in the work of Andy Warhol’s Race Riot (1963) and Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s Untitled (Death by Gun) (1990): both of them work heavily on public mediation and ritualising of trauma and violence, which was noteworthy for my own work.

For exercise 2.2 we are asked to write a 500 word entry on one contemporary artist working with the  archive, and while I had been looking at Trish Morrissey earlier, I was keen on Andy Warhol (again), or Eyal Sivan, based on his work of the The Specialist, which produces a film based entirely on the archival footage of the Eichmann trial. I don’t think I can consider Warhol to be contemporary, but will mark that work to look at more closely, and will try and get hold of the Sivan film as I have begun reading on some of the attempts to put him, the filmmaker, on trial for fraud. I also liked both Horsfield and Douglas’s works, but found too little of them online to make more of them,

— Something in here is confusing me enormously; I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think it has to do with my own sense of overwhelm of directions and possibilities, with the current assignment and what to do with the photography more generally. Somehow, there resides a promise in the ‘archive’: as if it presented a solution, something orderly to go to do gain direction for a next step. I also, promptly begun to write the table of contents for my current notebook (so that I will find all that is contained in it more easily). It has been useful to put a couple of days aside for giving these texts a bit more breathing space, they are extensive (and I am well used to reading and working with materials like this; I don’t quite know what I would make of them otherwise).

In addition to my earlier interests around the gaze and absence in the archive, these readings pointed towards diverse approaches to work, critically, within archives; the notion order/disorder, temporal preferencing and re-assigining of meaning retrospectively; the idea of inventing an archive, or inserting an archive or radically re-telling its claims to truth are possibly the strategies that interest me most in this context. At the same time, any authorial claims of legitimacy of any given archive are putting me off and let me veer into different directions. I will see what I may revisit of this for other projects of the module, or indeed a later stage.

 

 

 

moving image repository

… starting a collection of short animations that interest me (and possibly the ways how they circulate, can be traced to sources)

 

  1. deer woman bird (just)

Search for origin:

earliest I can find it is 15 Jan 2012 smile emoticon
https://uk.pinterest.com/minkehoeksma/underwater-world/

https://www.google.co.uk/search?sa=X&biw=1099&bih=625…
http://gazette-ic.com
tumblr_n1av8aIBzm1ts0zn4o1_500.gif

similar images, search by timeline

not clear if this is the animator (ambiguous auto translate):
https://thehotrats.wordpress.com/…/to-jsem-z-toho-jelen/

and there’s plenty of muybridge plates of women undressing; and a deer cycle…

>> I mistook it to be a 1920s piece: the aesthetics and the subject matter placed it for me in a surrealist past. I find it incredibly joyful and irreverent: a day is good when it starts like this (though I am uncertain what this ‘this’ actually is).

 

2. woman with gloves

tumblr_ns4w7apEPP1rj04czo1_250

search discovers it to be Eva Green in The Dreamers (Innocents), Dir, Bernardo Bertolucci 2003

>> this sits entirely elsewhere to (1) in relation to author – object (not subject) – viewer. The short looping makes it appear relentless. So, is she statue or agent? I am frequently unsettled by the audacity (?) to make me imagine she is without arms. And curiously, by having seen the film sequence, of course that impression would sit entirely different: I would know by then that this woman has two arms. Here, in this GIF that question is the opening gambit – or possibly it is: look at the breasts, look at the arms, look at the breasts, no look at the arms. So there is a competition of attention going on. After a while I find myself wanting to unravel the illusion, again and again.

 

3.  desk turning

The perfect table flip; a source from one year ago: http://www.gifbay.com/gif/the_perfect_table_flip-132075/

this one takes the repeat into a different direction: somehow ‘release’ is my emotional response and it gets perpetuated. I think it may be because the closing sequence is him sitting down and the desk top is rearranged: neat, orderly… so, the flipping the mess of the desk over does result in an ordered (not just empty) desk, the key items: lamp, laptop, phone, mug remaining on the table during the flip; so, it’s digital throughout; I suspect the room is also painted in and I like how the shadows work in the corridor.

 

4. Moving around the house. Again and again (FB feed 28/1/2016)

https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/5c/c1/54/5cc154cac27aa56c8307ad481160c15d.gif

no further info yet: but again: endlessly intrigued by the repetition; this works with a similar complexity to Tango: it takes some while figuring out where the loop is.