Adding Filters to Footage

So I was previously struggling with my visuals not really portraying the message that I wanted. Although I really like the post-Internet art, glitchy aesthetic, it wasn’t really working with my current project.

I decided to edit all the internet users footage to mimic the CCTV style I had previously attempted. I did this using Adobe After Effects.

Removing the colour from the videos and adding the venetian blind effect becomes more recognisable as surveillant.

 

Once edited to visually represent my politic, I inputted this footage into Adobe Premiere Pro. I decided to put this footage into a grid rather than having the files floating randomly around the page.

Already I think that this is a big improvement on my last piece as the visual language presents the message of the work a lot better and makes it easier for the viewer to understand the concept upon first viewing.

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Researching the participants

Because I personally know three out of the four participants it is easy for me to find their social media sites and identifying details. However, my audience do not know that there is any relation between the artist and subject so if I where to fabricate an internet presence for them, they wouldn’t know.

I did a couple of screen recordings searching the participants names, pulling up there Facebook profiles and scrolling through some of their pictures. I then overlapped this over the internet user that was in the search.

Screen Shot 2017-05-15 at 19.22.19.png

I do think this is a good approach to starting to break up the banality of just watching the four people, but think that there is a more interesting way of mixing it up. I do plan on adding some explicit moments in too, to make the audience feel like they’re watching something they shouldn’t.

Also, with this current composition I haven’t added any extra audio files. I am starting to think that maybe less is more with this project. Originally I had wanted to make the soundscape really in-your-face and irritating but I am thinking that having a more subtle one will work better in the exhibition space, played through speakers.

Ryan Trecartin

Ryan Trecartin’s garish, in-your-face, digital collages are the epitome of extreme visual overload. He pushes all the boundaries and questions how much of the internet is reflected inside the user. A concept I can really relate too.

 

There isn’t much of a flow to Trecartin’s work, instead it tends to glitch and jump between shots. This was something I had tried to mimic but it hadn’t been effective as I had hoped. I still need to work on editing different shots to blend together seamlessly but I don’t know if this style is too extreme.

 

I do personally find these pieces seriously uncomfortable to watch. Im not sure if this is because of the artist as actor’s very bad acting or the overlay of this with the audio files. Also, as it looks to have been produced at a fairly low budget, like a home video, that we as an audience weren’t necessarily intended to watch.

I Want! I Want! Exhibition

I recently visited the I want! I Want! exhibition at Birmingham’s Gas Hall gallery on its opening weekend, as I had seen it advertised and recognised the feature photo as artist Rachel Maclean’s work. A couple of months ago I had travelled down to London to see an exhibition of her work at the Tate Modern and absolutely fell in love with her strong politic and unusual approach to expressing this.

Rachel Maclean

Rachel Maclean – Again and again and again from RANDOM ACTS on Vimeo.

A satirical view on the excesses of consumerism can be seen in Rachel Maclean’s art practice. The video Again and again and again (2016) is presented in a candy-coloured dystopian future where a crowd repeatedly chants ‘we want data again, again, again’. The characters are calling for information to their news feeds from a queen like figure, who has been created to mirror a Kardashian-like celebrity. Here Maclean is showing a disdain for contemporary celebrity culture. However, it is the visuals coupled alongside these phrases that make the work quite disturbing. As seen in above, her works aesthetic is full of bright electric colours; the subject mirrors an emoji by removing her nose and Maclean’s whole practice is constructed to imitate children’s television shows and turn these into a nightmarish reality.

Upbeat, techno music is used in the video coupled with a constant upward movement of the framing. These allude to the fast pace of social media and scrolling through news feeds. They also show the passiveness of the user, as most of the content is passed over extremely quickly and before the viewer has chance to register the full content; much like many users interactions with social media platforms.

The Scottish artist tackles really current issues in a way that leaves the viewer feeling super uncomfortable and self-conscious of their own presence in the bright, in-your-face installation. The piece I watched at the more recent exhibition continued in the same iconic style as the previous.

Rachel Maclean, Feed Me, 2015, excerpt from Film London on Vimeo.

This second piece was much longer and much more uncomfortable, I plan to revisit the exhibition to write a full review on this piece and take a notebook with me this time!

 

As for the rest of the exhibition; the way the 26 artists work had been put together was probably one of the best curated exhibitions I have ever visited. With the theme throughout being rapid development of technology over the past 20 years, there was a really diverse range of approaches. There seemed to be so much presented but in a way that each piece had its own room to breathe.

The whole exhibition made me think about different diverse ways in which I could present my own work, and made me think about space in a completely different way all together.

Experimentation with Audio/Visual

So, without legally being able to hack into random off site websites, I had to think of online surveillance in a new light.

I sent out a few emails to friends with the strange request of them filming themselves through their own webcams and then forwarding this video to me. I didn’t particularly instruct them on what they should be doing but suggested they carried on as normal and ignored the camera.

Having recently done a project on attention spans, I didn’t want these videos to be too long. Mostly because I felt like I would be receiving much of the same banal footage but also because I didn’t want my final piece to become stupidly long. I requested that the participants filmed for 3 to 4 minutes although most of them sent me much longer videos and stated that they’d forgot about the recording.

I also wanted to experiment with filming on location and seeing how I could manipulate this footage into being quite uncomfortable. Below is some experimentation with different styles of footage.

Although still incomplete, I am really not happy with this piece.

There isn’t a good flow between frames and it really doesn’t exaggerate my politic and what I am trying to say. I did originally have text and bitmoji’s included in this sequence as well but they quickly got dismissed as being irrelevant.

The layout of the internet users being watched also aesthetically doesn’t make much sense to be displayed. I also think that these would look better if they were edited to look similar to my catalogue submission images, without the obscuring of the face but with the extra text. As seen below.

To fit more to the surveillance theme I am going to put them into a grid display rather than just floating around randomly. It was also discussed in one of my tutorials to have them fade in and out and not necessarily have they playing constantly.

Audio-wise I still need to experiment some more. I have kept the audio files linked to the webcam videos but with the added computer noise over the top it makes them kind of hard to hear.

Also, there needs to be some sort of context to what the internet users are looking at. In one of the videos the female takes a selfie, I am going to contact her and see if it is at all possible to get hold of that image.

It was also suggested to me to maybe suggest one of the users might be doing something explicit, like watching porn. I think this is an interesting idea and might work well with the fading in and out concept so that it’s not directly obvious but the voyeuristic suggestion is there.

Overall, I still have an awful lot of work to do and still need to complete some artist research that I have briefly looked at but will help me with my project if I revisit.

 

Obfuscation

Do I want the participants to be obscured?

Much like the image I submitted for the catalogue, I wonder if I should obfuscate the participants identities?

Traditionally, surveillance was avoided by disguising oneself using various items of cover up clothing, like caps and hoodies. Online some individuals still obscure their appearance by downloading other people’s images and posing as them. In short this is identity theft but there are no laws against it. The MTV show ‘Catfish’ documents this type of obfuscation and although these accounts are most commonly pursuing deceptive romance, it alludes to the idea that our best selves are presented online, whether or not they show the truth.

Adam Harveys project CV Dazzle presents a 21st century stylised approach to how to obscure your identity.

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https://cvdazzle.com

Although I am not looking to make my participants dress like this as I record them, I could use the more traditional editing approach… The black floating box over their most prominent features.

Clandestine 02Although I think visually this is more incriminating on the participant I don’t think it has the same effect on the viewer. If they can see who they are, just normal young adults, then they can relate to them more. If the participant is displayed as a criminal then they’re likely to encourage the exposé of them.

Blank Banshee, Vaporwave and Looking for Audio Inspo

Today I spent majority of my day listening to free royalty free music downloads and anyone who has ever had the pleasure of enduring the same task will understand just how slow my day has gone.

Audio is not something I have ever really learnt about, I have used sound in my previous projects but with this one I am trying to really make a statement.

Audio plays a massive role in the audiences experience, I want the sound to enhance my politic and make the post internet quite disturbing to watch and listen too.

Below is a piece that has elements I would like to draw from.

The repetitive glitchy sound does indeed work well with the ideas I have in mind for visuals. Although this track is too short it provides an idea of the electric, pop, upbeat sound I am trying to achieve.

My next move was to try and create this type of sound using samples from my own music library using Audacity. I started by editing the speed of the tracks and looping certain parts. I then layered more tracks on top but honestly this all sounded pretty awful. When creating audio before I have always done this in Adobe Premier Pro alongside the visual, I think this is going to have to be my approach from here on out if I want to write my own piece.

I did also download a couple of free music tracks, these weren’t exactly what I was looking for but I am going to continue looking as maybe stitching a couple of these together will be a satisfying end result.

 

Exhibition Catalogue Submission

The current project I am working on is for my university degree show. As part of this exhibition I have been working closely with my class mate Chloe on creating a catalogue showcasing all of the artists work.

We recently set a deadline for everyone to submit images and artist statements to print. This deadline really got me thinking about how little experimentation I have undertaken during this module, I have had lots of ideas but for some reason or another I haven’t been able to execute them.

The following is the artist statement I submitted:

The project Clandestine exposes the uncomfortable reality of how easy it is to hack and track people online. Elle Heaps’ strong skepticism towards the world-wide web shows through the post-internet, CCTV style aesthetic and uncomfortable atmosphere created when viewing. The work addresses the everyday internet user and leads them to question their own privacy settings and what it means to live an electrified life. Presenting these seemingly private moments in the public realm displays the blurring boundaries between the private and public in the 21st century, as privacy is now thought of less as solitude and more the right to control our identity and information.

I found titling my work particularly challenging as this has previously always been one of my final stages of the creative process, however, having to write this overview gives me more of an idea of what I am working towards.

Without the catalogue deadline I would not have pushed myself to actually get this piece written. I am now getting myself my diary out and setting myself mini deadlines to really get this project completed to the standard I want.

 

Merry Alpern – Dirty Windows

Merry Alpern’s photography project “Dirty Windows” gives insight into what happens behind closed doors just off of New York City’s Wall Street. Alpern maintains an air of privacy and mystery throughout the series by obscuring the identities of the subject and through the grainy, surveillant aesthetic.

The voyeuristic topic isn’t solely what inspires me about her work but more her methodology; Alpern captures the images with a telephoto lens from a friends window across the street. I had disregarded taking my own photos for this project as I wanted to focus my attention on moving image and screen recordings, however, Alpern’s project shows me that reverting back to still images can say just as much, if not more, than moving image as here it allows the audience to create their own narrative for the characters and lets them spend more time with each situation.

I plan to experiment with my own telephoto lens, attempting to capture seemingly private moments out in the public.

Illegal Ideas?! Having Ethical Issues!

After receiving feedback form my class mates last week during formative feedback I felt much more inspired to move forward with this project.

Continuing with the surveillance theme, my ideas went down the route of exploring how easy it is to be hacked and tracked online.

My initial train of thought took me down a route that I later came to realise was highly illegal. Innocently, I planned to hack into remote location web cams and record peoples faces as well as conducting screen recordings to trace their internet behavior. When I first started researching how to go about doing this I naively didn’t realise that this is a jail-able criminal offence. Oops!

I then had extensive conversations with my friend that studies ethical hacking who reassured me that remotely controlling a web cam is possible, and more importantly legal, if you have the devices owner’s permission. He told me he could write a code for Windows PC users to download and that would give me access.

I played with this idea for a while; the first hurdle I faced was that I do not know anyone that uses a Window PC, other than my father, so finding participants was the first thing I needed to do. The second thing I considered with this methodology was that the subject would be made aware that they’re under observation. This kind of counter acts my politic, that people are unaware of how easy it is to hack and track them online.

I was now at a crossroads, unsure of whether I wanted the project to become a performative piece as this is what I thought it would become if people where aware they where being watched. This isn’t necessarily what I wanted to produce so I have been brainstorming a few further ideas.

The reality of filming people as they use their digital devices is that I would probably end up with hours of banal footage of people sat, blank faced, typing. This is neither interesting or enhancing the idea of the invasive nature of the internet.

Editing this type of footage to look more suspicious and invasive does give it a bit more substance. Protecting the users identity with familiar obfuscation techniques allows the audience to question why this specific person is under surveillance.

 

I personally get really excited by the work of Rachel Maclean, her work always makes such strong political comments on our generation and the visuals make this message carry in an interesting way.

I will post again in more detail about her work and what take away’s from her work can be incorporated into my own project. But as for now, I want to experiment with creating ‘boomerangs’ – something I think is particularly popular on the internet at the moment and how this hyper lapse technique will add to the annoying atmosphere I intend to instill in the viewer.

 

I also plan to revisit post-internet artists’ work who have inspired me in the past, as I want to experiment more with glitch art and have some vivid ideas about how to incorporate some mouse trails and clicks.