Sunday, March 30, 2014

My Third Performance Piece

This time around, we had to do a performance that involved our body. I felt like this would open a lot of possibilities for me and it did. It opened too many possibilities, actually. I had no idea what to do for a very long time. My sleep schedule was also very messed up the entire week up to the performance. I guess what I'm really trying to say is that I procrastinated and the idea came to me in a state of mild stress. If you haven't noticed already, I like being honest and transparent about my artistic processes. Maybe a little too honest? Naaahhhhh...

The above video is the projection that played during the performance. I don't have a video of the actual performance yet but I will soon. While that video played behind me, I got a slew cords including two NES controllers and a light gun and then wrapped them around myself. A sign taped to an NES nearby pleaded for the audience to "help me" as I became entangled in the warped, technological mess. Once the cords were all wrapped around me, I lay the ground and waited. One person got up to help me but, because the sign wasn't visible in the dark room, it wasn't until the video was halfway done.

After the performance, I got some input and then did the whole thing again (after untangling the cords). The second time I had someone else put the cords around me and instead of laying on the ground I went down on a table. The second time was less effective, I feel, but the inclusion of the table was a definite improvement. I also got a few good ideas for stuff to include the next time I do the performance. I really feel like I could do this for the live performance night and, when I do, the video will be slightly different. Instead of having a sign on an NES that says help me, I designed a text box that looks like the title screen of a game that will flash over the video.

I really like how this performance went, in spite of how much stress went behind it. The wrapping up of cords around me was a manifestation of that stress, in a way. I constantly feel like I could do so much if I didn't keep strangling myself with technology. It was originally about death, which is why the video features a guy ranting about death forward and backward in a vocoder. In practice, though, it ended up being more about stress and I like that better. I haven't died yet but I have felt stress.

Lastly, I'm glad the piece didn't creep people out too much. I mean, it probably did but not in a "I'm really concerned for this guy's sanity" sort of way. Maybe that's how you feel about it, ambiguous reader who's probably either in my class or a friend or family member. And that's OK. It's art and art is life and life is scary sometimes.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

My Second Performance Piece

(actual staged recreation)

I don't have a recording of this one, either, but I'll get better about it in the future I swear. So, for this piece I had to do something in which sound was the main focus. And I had to do this piece with a partner. What my partner Haley and I ended up putting together is something I'd consider in the vein of John Cage. With instruments like an exhaust pipe, a portable speaker, a detuned dulcimer, and a bucket it's not hard to see why.

The piece was, in concept, based on creating an aural landscape that would represent a stylized alien abduction. In other words, we made a lot of noises and hoped it would sound like aliens coming down to kidnap the innocent. The full list of instruments is as follows (in order of scope and magnitude):

1) one microphone and speaker to amplify the portable speaker
2) one Goal Zero portable speaker with which I pressed the headphone jack to my finger to produce a high pitched tone
3) one ocarina (detuned)
4) one dulcimer (detuned)
5) one exhaust pipe
6) one jar of pins
7) one bucket
8) one water bottle
9) two performers and one unsuspecting audience member
10) the invisible alien overlords must be present and watching (ensure any audience member wearing a tinfoil hat removes it for the duration)

The performance began with feedback from the portable speaker while Haley played the ocarina upside down, producing a flat whistling tone like the solar winds. After an indeterminate amount of time Haley then shook the exhaust pipe, signifying entrance into the atmosphere, and I scraped the coins across the table. Because the microphone picking up the portable speaker sounds was on the table, it picked up the sound of the coins scraping the table and produced a reverberating feedback effect much like a low pitched flying saucer. This only happened in rehearsal, however, which was a tad disappointing.

Anyway, once Haley stopped shaking the exhaust pipe she grabbed the ocarina like a space gun and walked around the room shaking the jar of pins in a rhythmic fashion. I stood by and slid a quarter over the strings of the dulcimer, making a sound like idle alien gear. Haley then placed the bucket on the chosen audience member's head and brought her up to the main console (the table everything was set up on). She was then handed the ocarina and, to my surprise, began to play it. In retrospect it seems obvious but I distinctly remember being surprised.

Haley then shook the pipes, I scratched around the coins and then, after a while, I started the portable speaker sound again. The piece then ended and the abducted Intermedia student was never heard from again. I hear she returned to Earth somewhere in Guatemala and couldn't remember her name for a couple days but the rumors are hard to verify.

I really like how this piece turned out. I do, however, agree with my teacher's assessment that the actual performance was more interesting than the story. Alien abduction isn't exactly a subject with new ground to break. I like my classmates' interpretation of it being a ritualistic sacrifice and if I do something similar to this in the future I'll keep it in mind. No one will die or get transported through space and/ or time, I promise. Just a simple, clean bloodless sacrifice to the invisible alien overlords who, surely, watch over our every move.

No one brought their tinfoil hats to the performance, by the way, which made me very happy. I wouldn't have wanted to deal with making someone take theirs off.

Coming up next time: will I take the challenge and dive into the COLD?

Probably not.

Monday, March 24, 2014

3 Sound Environments

For an assignment I had to sit in 3 different locations for 15 to 20 minutes and record the sounds I heard. These are the aural events I witnessed within those 3 durations. 

Environment 1 (My Room/ 4:30)

1) Someone playing music a floor up
2) My laptop running
3) The wind outside
4) My watch ticking
5) Things in my roommates’ closets shifting
6) A fan in the kitchen humming
7) The door opening and closing as my roommates come and go
8) Someone moving stuff upstairs
9) A toilet flushes occasionally upstairs
10) People’s footsteps as they walk by

Environment 2 (The cafeteria/ 5:30)

1) People talking
2) Forks and spoons clacking
3) Footsteps
4) The soda machine working
5) Chairs sliding as people get up
6) Plates getting set down
7) A fan running
8) Pages turning as someone next to me reads a book
9) Clothes rustling
10) Food cooking

Environment 3 (Middle of Tri-Hall/ 3:00)
1) A squirrel eating
2) The wind moving
3) Leaves rustling
4) Trees bristling
5) Birds chirping
6) People playing a catch
7) People talking as they walk by
8) My clothes moving in the wind
9) Trains going by
10) Tarr’s front doors opening and closing

Sunday, March 23, 2014

More About Me (Art Vision)

I'm going to talk about myself for a while. Is that OK? Cool. I swear I won't get too narcissistic. I’m going to 250 words or more of your day to tell you about who I am as an artist. It’ll be an interesting experience for me and you. Probably more for me than you but that’s OK. Maybe my writing will be interesting enough to make up for the lack of subject material.

My art vision changes from year to year and depends on the kind of stimulus I expose to myself on a daily basis. The kind of music I listen to, the food I eat, the clothes I wear, the people I spend time with are all things that can change my art. Lately I've been playing a lot of video games, so my art has been focused on pixel art and chip tunes. As I've been taking Intermedia, though, I've been looking for ways to incorporate my video game soaked ideas to get along with Futurism , Dadaism, Fluxus, and others.

I don’t confine myself to one medium. This means that sometimes I’ll spend months mixing music and then, out of nowhere, stop and start drawing for months. Sometimes I work on multiple mediums at once but never as separate projects. If I’m writing and drawing at the same time I’m probably making a picture book. Video projects, for me, are a way to incorporate every artistic medium I like working with. I write the script, design the visual aesthetic, mix the music, and sometimes act a part. The reason I don’t do it often is because of the work load it presents.

And that’s where I am right now. I know I only talked about the mediums I work with and not my artistic style but I’m not 100% sure what my style is. I’m sorry. It’ll become clearer to me as I make more stuff but, for now, it’s not the most important thing for me to know. For now, there is only me and you and the stuff I make to bridge the gap between us. Hopefully it will be enough.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

First Performance Piece

The requirement was simple: do something you know. It could be anything. Tie a shoe. Rub a cat. Do your laundry. So what did I do? Well, I know how to play video games. I have an NES and a TV. So I brought my TV and NES to class with me as part of my performance piece. The part of me that's been going to institutionalized education for 14 years couldn't believe it. I've never brought a video game into a classroom setting before, let along use it as part of an assignment.

But what did I do with the system? Well, I knew I wanted to have audience participation. I want the audience to feel like they're not just watching the piece but participating in it. Nay, influencing and making perceptible changes in it. So I sat behind the TV so I couldn't see what was going on and set up a game of Mario. On the table was a sign that said "Say Yes or No" and "9 Lives, 3 Continues, 1 Shot". I then had everyone in my class sit in a semi-circle around the TV, some people facing toward the TV and some away. And then the fun began.

The "Say Yes or No" sign wasn't immediately obvious but, once it was, my classmates began to cautiously experiment. This was to no avail in the beginning, though, as I had somehow failed to start the game. For a solid minute or so the only thing playing was the computerized run-through during the start menu. All of us were completely unaware that, despite our best efforts, we weren't actually making a difference in Mario's survival. Once I got it up and running, though, the limitations really set in. One can say "no" and "NO" and "NOOOOOOOO" but none of those things quite convey the same message as "you didn't clear the pipe, it's- it's too- it's too damn high!" Often people would switch facing the TV with someone who wasn't out of frustration. But it only got worse from there. Listening to people shout "YES" and "no no no no no" and "A little to the right and YES", besides secretly sounding like porn, also reminded you of how little progress everyone was making. Oh, and even if you try you can't make a perceptible difference. During the final play through Mario somehow got a 1-up but it was no use. He never got farther than the first gap in world one level one.

This failure inherent in the system of communication had inspiration in how I feel talking to people on a daily basis. I'm not much of a talking person but when I try it always feels like I'm doing something wrong. Oh yeah, I have high functioning autism (Aspergers). Because, you know, context and stuff. Anyway, when I ask for advice on how to hold better conversations, the vague stuff I get back all sounds like either "do (A)" or "don't do (B)". Be confident! Don't doubt yourself so much! You can do it! In other words, "yes" and "no". 

That's because most people don't think of things like that in concrete terms. There's so much more to "be confident" than the phrase on its own lets on but the concrete, actually useful stuff, that defines confidence is usually taken so for granted its hard to remember it's there. I understand that and it's no one's fault. I just want my side to be understood. Assuming I know what confidence is, is like assuming I knew what my classmates meant when they desperately pointed at the screen and shouted "YEEEESSSSSSSSSS!"

To sum it up briefly: shit sucks. For both sides.

I'm really happy with how this project turned out. I might do something similar with Duck Hunt, except instead of sitting behind the TV I'll have a blindfold on. I'll also do some more experimentation with audience participation too. The idea of giving the audience control over the piece but not so much they can deliberately influence the outcome intrigues me. That'll mean doing a lot of work with chance and games, which sounds exciting.

When everyone else has presented their projects I'll do a reflection on them.

Baby Steps

Check out this silly video I made while relearning Final Cu- I mean Adobe Premiere. It won't waste too much of your time, I swear.

EDIT: the video got compressed beyond recognition but I'm motivated enough to fix it. It's a pretty artsy effect anyway so I'll be happy with it for now and figure out what went wrong later.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Hello World

I've never written a blog before. OK, I lied. I've written a few very temporary blogs on tumblr before but never had the motivation to keep up with them. And now my class is requiring me to write a blog, so... yeah. This blog will likely end with this class. It might not. But in the end... I'm done making this reference.

So, this is going to be my art blog. The class is Intermedia, which means performance art. I'll be uploading videos, photos, and other stuff here. What's the other stuff? Don't look at me. So, other than that this'll be a pretty quiet blog. I mean, at this point that's the plan. I might continue with this blog into my next class, Advanced Photography. I might even continue it into the summer. Cool, right? Sure.

Anyway, I should introduce myself. My name is Lucian Moser. I'm a junior studying Intermedia at Cornell College (not the ivy league Cornell, that's way too good for me). My interests are mixing music, drawing, making videos, and writing. I'm super awkward in person and, to be honest, I'm also a huge nerd. Well... not a huge nerd. Maybe a king size nerd. Actually, I'll go with fun size because who doesn't like fun size? Actually, a lot of people don't like fun size. OK, fine I'm an extra large nerd with a side order of fries. I'm hungry.

I'm going to wrap this up before it gets too long. I also have a feeling you shouldn't end a blog post with "I'm going to end this blog post" but it's OK. I have no idea what I'm doing. I also have no idea who I'm addressing right now. My hypothetical audience? It feels a bit narcissistic to address a hypothetical audience in the first post. In any case, whoever is reading this, I'm stalling because I have no idea how to end this.

K, bye.