Monday, June 9, 2014

igne natura renovatur integra

igne natura renovatur integra = through fire, nature is reborn whole

it's okay if you don't understand the video at first. If it weirds you, that's even better! In one way, this video falls under Bourriaud's concept of critical materialism. As reality is filled with chance encounters, art is made of chance meetings of signs and chaotic forms. One does not automatically associate paper cranes with wildlife, much less paper cranes, wildlife, AND fire.

The video is based on a general concept: life and death. Creation is symbolized by the actual making of the cranes. Destruction is symbolized by burning the cranes. Scenes of animal strife and violence are juxtaposed with the cranes to make the point that this a process that can be observed in nature, and is, in fact, crucial in creating a stable ecosystem.

The response to the artwork is crucial. I want to hear the feelings and impressions of my audience, as their shared ideas will manipulate the reality of the art itself. In true relational art form, the participation of the viewers is crucial to the art itself.

I would like to thank Rose Broll for helping me film, and Jade for lending me a lighter (that inevitably ran out of lighter fluid). The song used is Ghostwriter Remix by RJD2. All of the video clips were appropriated from youtube, and depict scenes from the BBC series Planet Earth. Every single crane was harmed in the making of this video. I cannot speak on behalf of the animals, though I think it's pretty clear that a few suffered incredibly gruesome fates...

Monday, May 12, 2014

Rebirth of An Artist

I had a bizarre dream a couple of days ago. It began by me talking with my Digital Processes professor about how I missed the deadline for submitting artwork. It ended with two of us being chased by a monster made entirely of fire. Though I don't usually believe in dream analysis, I used this dream as inspiration for my project.

In a couple weeks I'll be graduating from college. Then I will have to discard everything that I was in order to build a new life for myself. I've been having a lot of anxiety about this, which has caused me to have a lot of vivid dreams. I have found that I adopted origami as a habit that I do to procrastinate thinking about the future. Having had terrible issues with anxiety already, I've been experiencing a lot of self doubt and fear that has hindered my ability to prepare for the future.

This project in a way will be therapeutic for me. My idea is to film the formation and destruction of a paper crane, or another kind of origami bird. The destruction will be by fire. The destruction by fire will be representative of me overcoming my fears, as well as the rebirth of my identity. Obviously incorporating fire into my project will be difficult, since, well, fire. Hopefully I'll be able to minimize the risk involved. I'll leave you with a quote that I find pertinent to this idea:

"Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will." -Karim Seddiki

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How to Be Incredibly Awkward on Camera

The objective of this project, on a purely superficial level, was to create a how-to video. In regards to that, this project was a complete and utter failure. Though I am fairly accomplished with origami, I went a little overboard by trying to do a how to of an origami design that I myself had only learned that day. Therefore, something that should have only taken 2 minutes ended up taking 7, because I forgot the design halfway through. Though I edited the video to be amusing for the viewer, the actual experience was painful and frustrating for me. From my perspective at the time, I had completely ruined the project and I was angry at myself. I had failed to execute my concept perfectly.

However, when thinking about this project in the frame of relational aesthetics, there is no way one could really fail at this project. In essence, this project was less about making a how to video and more about creating a work of art that depicts a state of social encounter. In that case, I could not possibly have been more successful. This video perfectly encapsulates my fears of failure and embarassment. I have found throughout my life that the more preoccupied I am with doing something perfectly or not being awkward in front of people, the more likely I am to end up making a mistake. My experience in making this video is similar to other experiences I have on a daily basis. Fortunately, I have a pretty solid sense of humor, which allows me to look at the events of my past in a more forgiving manner. If it generates a laugh or a feeling of sympathy from the audience, then my video is successful.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Building a Meme Community around Dysthymia

As I near the end of my senior year of college, I've found that I am most concerned with the presence of unnecessary suffering in the world. One of the ways this manifests is through mental illness, which  is what I chose to focus on for my relational aesthetics piece.

My own experiences with depression has led me to be interested in the experiences of others, and conveying that experience in an accurate, poignant, and artistic way. For this project, I snooped around the clinical depression forum of, which is a useful online resource for anyone looking for support. I read through topics and picked quotes from anonymous users that I felt that I, and other people suffering from depression, could resonate with. All of the users were anonymous, and the comments were all made in a public forum, making them free for public use. Specifically, I looked in the topics related to dysthymia, which is also known as chronic depression. Though the symptoms of dysthymia are less severe than those of major depression, the symptoms often last for a greater length of time and the effects that it has on a person's life can be equally devastating. 

I was absorbed into this project, and it allowed me to reflect on my own experience with dysthymia. It also revealed to me that many aspects of my experience were similar to those of other people, which helped to validate some of my thoughts as well as make me feel less isolated. This project was a great way for me to express my interest in hand lettering as well. I hope in the future to do more art projects related to mental illness since it is one of the biggest inspirations behind my art. You can see the rest of my works here.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Proposed Arena of Exchange

The internet is a place where tons of micro communities are formed through social media outlets. These forums allow a private space for people to share their thoughts anonymously. Though these forums can be negative and result in cyberbullying or a general reduction in the collective IQ, there are many forums that are formed with the intention of helping one another. One of the most touching example of these that I have found  are forums that are built to support people with anxiety and depression. These mental illnesses can be extremely isolating, but one has to only look around the internet to know that they are not suffering alone. For example, the depression comic of Hyperbole and a Half has resonated with a shocking amount of people. Because I'm also a comic artist, I also appreciate the way illustrations can bring people together. For my project, I will attempt to extract some of the common thoughts of loneliness and pain that people express on the Internet and illustrate them in a way that makes them relatable through a small cartoon. This cartoon figure will be someone that anyone suffering from anxiety or depression can relate to, like the narrator of Hyperbole and a Half. I intend to do about 25 of these, and then post them on Flickr.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Growth of a Global Village

"Electric circuitry is Orientalizing the West. The contained, the distinct, the separate--our Western legacy--are being replaced by the flowing, the unified, the fused."
The Medium is the Massage

This project was created in the vein of my previous stop motion project, because I was intrigued as to how much further I could take the idea of stop motion and origami. The emphasis of Eastern culture in modern art and modern technology made it easy for my to create a visual analogy for the digital revolution through the construction an origami icosahedron from sonobe units. If you are interested, below is a diagram of the individual unit. 

I'd be lying if I said this project wasn't a pain in the ass. I spent about 7 hours taking pictures in the studio. However, I am fairly content with how my project turned out, and I've certainly enjoyed my time in Digital Processes.

Friday, March 7, 2014

J. Robert Oppenheimer: The American Prometheus

Oppenheimer at age 40.

"There are children who are playing in the street who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception." The Medium is the Massage

J. Robert Oppenheimer was an enigmatic genius that led a tragic life that has inspired an opera, Doctor Atomic, and that continues to beguile historians. For better or worse, Oppenheimer will forever be remembered as the mind that birthed the atomic bomb. The creator of weaponized death on a massive scale. As he said after the successful trinity test at Los Alamos, "Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds."

The Manhattan Project was a research and developmental project that was convened during World War II due to the fear that Germany might gain access to nuclear weaponry before the Allies, securing their victory in the war. Oppenheimer was named director of The Manhattan Project, and under his leadership America successfully acquired the atomic bomb before the Germans. Oppenheimer knew the destructive force that he had created, and he feared its use in military strategy. He proposed that there be strict international regulation of atomic weaponry and favored the idea of diplomacy over combat. Ultimately, Oppenheimer was ignored, and President Truman dropped bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in response to Pearl Harbor. The military necessity of this move was questioned by many and Oppenheimer was burdened with guilt as a result. As payment for his contributions to America, Oppenheimer was ultimately accused of communism and died an early death from throat cancer, a broken and discredited man.

Hiroshima after the bomb.

In McLuhan, the use of technology is greatly debated, and some great ethical and societal implications are made. One of those being that the technology that we use shapes the way we use and process information as a society. For example, linear science caused us to think and progress in a linear fashion.  Formal education and societal influence, in turn, results in restrictions upon our technology, causing it to be used in a non ideal fashion, or, at the very least, not to it's full potential. Men and women who often seek to innovate technology or a way of thinking are then met with obstacles imposed by society, education, and the law. Oppenheimer represents an innovator whose technology was ultimately abused to fulfill a desire for revenge rather than to facilitate progress. His story serves as a cautionary tale as to the consequences of technology. It pays for society to open their eyes and think with a mind of their own.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

"Something Is Happening" Exhibition

Setting up the art exhibition was an unusual experience in itself. Typically, I hate having to deal with the details of ANYTHING, so I just usually leave the tedious minutia to everyone else. However, responsibility was inescapable this time. I, along with everyone else, needed to frame my pictures, line up on the wall in near-perfect symmetry, and arrange them so that the mind's eye was led around the whole room. I can't pretend that I like making sure that labels were lined up with the bottom of each frame, outside the edge of the shadow, of course. However, the act of creating an intriguing exhibit was an artistic process in itself, because it required knowing how your own pieces flow thematically with the others. Putting things together to make a cohesive whole is something that I was able to appreciate when the exhibition was done.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Song That Never Ends

"The ear favors no particular 'point of view.' We are enveloped by sound. It forms a seamless web around us. We say, 'Music shall fill the air.' We never say, 'Music shall fill a particular segment of the air.'"The Medium is the Massage

To me, the radio is a way that our minds can get trapped in the web of song. Pop songs are often designed to be "ear worms," songs that are impossible to forget. They act like a virus. You listen to a song and it repeats itself over and over in your head. Viruses enter the body, infect cells, reproduce, and continue this cycle indefinitely. These are the songs that never end, because they are impossible to get out of your head. To me, the song "Wonderwall" by Oasis is an example of one of these ear worms. I have a developed a visceral and passionate hatred for the tune due to the fact it was played so often on the radio. I couldn't go anywhere without being assaulted by it. Thus, for this project I attempted to recreate the song to demonstrate how it makes me feel and expose it for the monster that it truly is. I incorporated an out of tune guitar and the sound of knives being sharpened to create a grating and not-easy-to-hear atmosphere. Then I repeated a verse of the song throughout, while also adding vocal transformations at some points. This was my first time working with sound, and I am not yet sure how I feel about the final product. It gets my point across, but I hope I never hear it on the radio.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Lauren Semivan

What can I say about Lauren Semivan? A former Lawrence student, Lauren’s photographs remind me of the work of early photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron, with her soft focus, flowing fabrics, and black and white imagery. However, Lauren is in no way a portrait artist, unless you consider her work to be portraits of inanimate objects.

She appears as a subject in a few of her photos as well, but she never looks at the camera directly. Instead, she appears to only inhabit the image briefly, like a ghost intruding upon the space and then promptly disappearing.

Lauren is able to achieve this look in her images by continuing to use a very old camera that has a shutter that moves slower in the winter. The medium behind Lauren’s work defies the point of the Digital Processes class, which is to show how modern technology can be used to create art. Nevertheless, Lauren’s work serves as a reminder that good art can still be created utilizing the technology of the past. Check out her website here

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Social Critique: Looking at Graffiti Scars

For this project, I concentrated on the graffiti found underneath the bridge next to Jones Park. The style of graffiti art has always fascinated me. Furthermore, thanks to artists such as Banksy, graffiti has begun to be recognized as a legitimate medium. However, a lot of graffiti art never gets seen. It is either hidden away in private locations or covered up, because the act of creating graffiti is considered public defacement. I find this to be tragic, in a way, for graffiti is a medium often employed by artists that don't have professional training, or social outsiders trying to convey a message. Therefore, the suppression of graffiti can be considered the suppression of the voice of the social outcasts, who are concentrated among lower class youth. Through these photos,  I wanted to investigate what messages these artists were trying to express. See my photos here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Moving Through Time and Space

"'Time' has ceased, 'space' has vanished." The Medium is the Massage

While the execution of this project was far from perfect, I am actually somewhat proud of what I have managed to achieve. I've dreamed of creating a stop motion piece for a large portion of my life, and stop motion happened to go well with the concept I wanted to illustrate. After reading McLuhan and Fiore's book, I thought of another book. A Wrinkle in Time. Aside from being one of my favorite books, I felt that I could draw parallels between the ways the characters access the fourth dimension in order to travel through time and space and the way The Medium is the Massage tells of how digital media has increased the speed of our perceptions. In a way, digital technology has also resulted in the subversion of time and space. I felt this shift in dimensions would best be portrayed by a change from a 2 dimensional piece to a 3 dimensional piece. Thus, there is a literal transition between the drawing of a fox to an origami fox. As the video illustrates, art executed in the 2nd dimension is constructed far slower than the art in the 3rd dimension.

 I was also hoping to incorporate the idea that this increase in speed has led to an increase in conglomeration. As the book says "Print technology created the public. Electric technology created the mass."

Due to logistics, I was unable to edit the two videos together. Still, I am content that I was able to make this concept manifest in some form or another.

Sandra Dyas

Despite having lived within the corn walls of Iowa her entire life, Sandra Dyas has had many diverse experiences that help to influence her artwork. She's an Iowa City native. She got married when she was 20 years old. Had a daughter. Couple of years later, decided the marriage wasn't for her, and decided to get an education. After doing wedding photography, senior photography, and working in the theatre, Sandy branched out into new media. She was one of the minds behind the development of the Intermedia department at Iowa State and she continues to teach photography at Cornell College. Through her experiences, it is clear that she has learned to perceive her surroundings differently from others. Her photographs display scenes of small town life and Iowa landscape that one might initially write off as "quaint" or "nostalgic." It is through the way Sandra juxtaposes these images that her true artistry is shown. In her exhibitions, all photos are arranged judiciously, in order to lure the mind's eye onto a path that travels throughout the room. Sandra has a natural talent for composition, and she has a way of relating two seemingly unrelated images to each other, depending on the position of the subject in the frame, the colors of the photograph, or the textures of the photographs. I give you these photos as an example but I encourage you to check out her website.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

My Life With Photoshop

Long ago, when Neopets was still popular, I began to become obsessed with Photoshop and digital drawing. I spent hours on DeviantArt and Neopets drooling over the clean, colorful images that people created from Photoshop and other digital art programs. For the longest time I didn't have Photoshop, but this didn't stop me from studying every tutorial I could fine. Finally, in my sophomore year of college, I was finally given Photoshop CS5 and a Wacom Bamboo tablet for Christmas. It's safe to say that my art life was forever altered from that day.

The first work I did with photoshop was a self portrait. While the image itself is not the interesting, especially because I used my YMCA membership card as reference, I was proud of how the work came out. 

My most complete digital artwork is a logo that I made for my friends theatre company, which is called Flatirons Entertainment. The imagery in the logo is of the Flatirons, a series of mountains in Boulder, Colorado. 

The majority of the artwork I've created with photoshop has either been made in jest or as fan art, referencing some of my favorite video games and shows. It also tends to subscribe to a fairly simple style, with a lesser focus on realism. 

This year I started making comics for The Lawrentian, my school newspaper. I feel that my job as a comic artist has been very helpful in helping me get my artwork more recognition as well as to connect with fellow Lawrentians through my depictions of shared experiences. My job also allows me to indulge an old childhood dream of mine to be a cartoonist. While the comics are in a simple black and white style, I try to be as detailed as possible.

Stay tuned to see what I do next.

Welcome to the World

My name is Erin Davis, and I'm an aspiring artist and scientist. My scientific interest is the neurobiology of mental illness. Through art, I try to visually represent ideas I have about the world or novel emotions I experience. Simply, I am a very analytical person, and I seek to discover the truth of all things. Sometimes my interests can be described as dark or morbid, but that is simply because I don’t have the same reaction towards things that frighten me as others do. While most may be inclined to shy away from the thing that scares them, my fear motivates me to seek a greater understanding of the thing that scares me. Control over one’s impulses is necessary for artistic and intellectual achievement, as well as greater acceptance of diverse peoples and things. I find that art is one of the best mediums for expressing this truth, or truths, in exciting and engaging ways. Hopefully, my art will allow my viewer access to my brain. I enjoy traditional drawing with ink and pen, but I also seek to be a master of the digital realm. While I have negligible experience with digital video and photography I am fairly proficient in using Photoshop to make works of art. I am also a bit of an origami enthusiast, and I hope to explore how origami influences math and science and perfect my paper folding abilities. Furthermore, I wish to incorporate origami into a broader range of art, such as I have done in the past. Examples of my past work are shown below.