Wrap-up

By Laure Maron

As we have seen throughout this course, digital art is everywhere nowadays. Mechanization and digitalization have engendered amazing progress in most of the aspects of our society:

Art, in most of its forms, is obviously concerned by this progress and it makes us tend to think that there are no limits anymore. However, this tendency to think this way can lead to a crucial point: if art has no limit, what can be considered as an actual work of art and what cannot? If there are no limits, there are no rules anymore. Now, more than ever, the conception of art is something really subjective.

Communication is also an aspect of our everyday life that has drastically evolved. Communication began evolving a long time ago, and the apparition of the press was already a first big step for the spreading of informations, for example: communication was no longer limited to a face-to-face conversation. With the digital age, communication between people is made easier than ever: with the spreading of internet, with mobile phones… In general, we do not need to wait for any information more than a couple of hours. Communication is everywhere, we can see and talk live with someone from anywhere in the world. Again, this brings us to another crucial point: is this really helpful? People almost no longer need to directly ask someone for any information. In a world where communication is everywhere, it is a bit ironical that nobody has to talk to the others anymore.

The last aspect of our culture that I will develop here because its evolution has also been radically influenced by digitalization is the hobbies. Since the apparition of video games, for instance, the world of hobbies has known an important turn and it concerns most of the present-day western families. It seems that there is no limit to the attempt of being always more realistic, as well in the graphism as concerning virtual immersion.

As we can see, digitalization has an important impact in our life and our culture. Most of us could not imagine themselves living without all the facilities allowed by digitalization. However, if the digitalization process seems to have no practical or technical limit, maybe we should think of a moral or ethical one.

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Remix culture: the impact of YouTube

By Jessica Costa

In Thursday’s class, we discussed the remix culture.  As its name says, the goal is to remix, to combine, to change or to improve existing works in order to create new ones.  This new form of art is used by many people, especially on YouTube.  This website, created in 2005, can be seen as a social media, but it is almost seen as a network.

Indeed, many artists have been discovered thanks to YouTube, among other celebrities Justin Bieber and Esmee Denters.  The first one started to post videos of his musical performances on YouTube, when he was 12.  In the beginning it was for his family and friends, but other people saw them and shared them.  That is how his manager spotted him, and then Usher, who he signed a contract with.  At the present time he has sold 9 million albums all over the world.  The second one has been noticed thanks to her home videos on YouTube in 2006.  She was picking famous songs up again when she signed in the Justin Timberlake’s label, Tennman Records, in 2007.  Her official channel on YouTube has now count more than 133 million views.

Here you can see 2 home videos of Justin Bieber and Esmee Denters:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQOFRZ1wNLw&feature=player_embedded

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cndPHeBiM3s&feature=player_embedded

YouTube also allows anonymous people to post videos online which can be seen throughout the world and enjoy some kind of celebrity.  Just think of Keenan Cahill (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lm_n3hg-Gbg), or the numa numa guy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60og9gwKh1o).  Some videos have become famous, such as Charlie Bit My Finger (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OBlgSz8sSM&feature=related), which has been seen more than 337 million times!  According to the Time, this video is the greatest viral video of all-time.  In fact, a “viral video” is a video which spreads cultural information very quickly and in an uncontrollable manner.  In many cases new videos are posted to respond to the original videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rkhbvm5YOo&feature=related).  These are called “memes”. That is how the website becomes a network.

Therefore, thanks to YouTube, people become “prosumers”: they are consumers and producers of content at the same time.  But criticisms are leveled, such as the copyright issue or the problematic content.

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A little experiment on privacy in the Internet

By Agnieszka Miziolek

I remember when a few years ago some of my friends were playing in an online game. It was a kind of so called Browser Based Game, where many people log in every day, build some constructions, speed up production, fight each other, etc. But they also cooperate with each other by creating groups and talk (or rather usually write) with others via different sorts of instant messengers, like Skype or different chats. Up till now you may think it is not related to the topic of privacy, but wait a moment. I just want to provide a good example of how easy it is to infringe someone’s privacy, or rather, to illustrate people’s lack of knowledge about protecting their privacy.

So, after some time of playing in a certain organized group of gamers, some of the players started to talk with each other about other (more personal) stuff as well. Then, at school we had classes about privacy in the Internet. So my friends decided to carry out a small private research to check whether people obey the Internet security rules. In order to do it they were trying to find their fellow gamers on different social networking services, e.g. Facebook, NaszaKlasa (OurClass, Polish portal similar to Facebook). The results were really surprising- they found many of them in half an hour! They even did not need any private information about them, sometimes even name, city and age was enough. And, what is more, many important information, photos and other details were visible to everyone on these portals. Adding to it all the private things they were talking about on their chat, someone could be really in possession of a huge repository of details that strangers should not have.

The conclusion is that people really do not care, or rather, do not realize the threats connected with the Internet. There is no need of special techniques of spying as some people provide all necessary “weapons” against them by themselves. P.S. Of course my friends kept all “gained” information to themselves and didn’t use it in any way. They just decided to suggest some people that they put to many personal data on their Skype account.

Something about cyber crimes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU7ho1E7yPI

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This is no victimless art

By Laure Maron

During last Friday’s class, we talked about some artists that pushed the boundaries of art to the extreme, some of them using animals to create ‘pieces of art’.

An artist is someone who wants to communicate something to other people through a medium. Nowadays, the media have almost no limit, it can be everything the artist wants, and for some of them, the body itself can be a medium (even if McLuhan said the contrary, that is: “a media is the extension of the human body, it can be all tools that we use to expand the natural abilities of a human body”).

Using one’s own body as a medium to communicate a message, to share something with other people is something I can understand. Some people don’t even hesitate to mutilate their body (or the body of a volunteer), either because it is part of the “traditional” perception of beauty of the people which they belong to (Giraffe neck women, for example) or in the context of a work of art, in order to make people aware of the limits of the human body.

As long as people are aware of the risks they’re taking and as long as they concede to take part in the work of art, there is no problem. What bothers me is when people start using animals, which, we must admit, did not concede to take part in this kind of practices in any way. According to me, this is pure cruelty and I really don’t get the message these people try to convey by hurting and killing some innocent creatures.

Here are the two most horrible examples I found about this subject:

–          The first one is about a Japanese practice called ‘bonsai kittens’. This is a kind of souvenir made of a kitten stuck in a far too small box or bottle. After a while, the ‘official’ version of this practice appeared to be a joke, but it was so realistic that it actually gave ideas to some people who actually tried to do it.

http://lovelifelikeyourself.wordpress.com/2007/12/31/bonsai-kitten/

–          The second one is about another form of art: cooking. In the link I joined, you can see a culinary contest of different meals made of animals that have been cooked or cut in pieces… and that are still alive in your plate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pd7CNd0qy5o&feature=fvwrel

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The sensing body: Giraffe Neck Women

By Jessica Costa

In Tuesday’s class we have talked about the sensing body, and how bodies can be a medium, how they can communicate.  According to the communication theorist Marshall McLuhan, media are the extensions of the human body.  The body itself is not a medium, but instruments, such as radio and camera, yes.   But this theory is challenged by some practices, which show that human body can be a medium without extension.  Some examples of these are traditional rituals, contemporary dances, Giraffe Neck Women, etc.  I would like to talk about the latter.

Giraffe Neck Women are widely known for wearing metal rings around the neck, which change its length.  These women belong to the Burmese tribe of Padaung.  But because of the civil war in Burma, the tribe had to flee and settled in Thailand.  Little girls start wearing this ornament at the age of 5, after a ceremony performed by a shaman during the full moon.  As the girls grow up other rings are added, until they reach the chin.  Women can carry 28 rings to the maximum, which correspond to fifteen kilos, and the ornament can be thirty centimeters high.  Contrary to what one might think, the rings do not lengthen the neck, but they pull shoulders down.  According to a legend, woman of this tribe were attacked during the past by tigers which flew at their throat.  In order to protect them, men designed golden rings to put around women’s neck, and that became a tradition, linked at the present time with beauty.  But nowadays Giraffe Neck Women have become tourist attraction.  Indeed, some of them have been gathered in small villages in Thailand, where they can be photographed by tourists in return for money.  The matter of the human dignity is put to a severe test.

In conclusion Giraffe Neck Women just perpetuate their tradition and try to preserve their customs, without being influenced by the West. So this ritual, associated with beauty, is a way to communicate through the body and represent their strong cultural identity.

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Identity and embodiment

By Agnieszka Miziolek 

When I have read the chapter “Social Networking”, (pp. 232-237) I could not resist one thought- that the Internet is no longer an addition to our lives, something that is supposed to help us, for instance find different information, or to entertain us in our free time, but it is also something that lives its own life, as a separate “creature”.
This state seems to have started when social networks became very popular and widespread. They have started to sneak in in our lives and dominate them a bit. For many people, especially teenagers, cyberspace seems to be even more important than real life is. They spend more time on the Internet than with their real friends, often not being able to create true relationships in the real world. Of course I don’t want to underestimate the role of the Internet and the degree to which it helps us in our everyday life, also to contact with our real friends, but sometimes I wonder whether the negative effects of it are not bigger and more detrimental to current youths than its positive influence is. In addition to this, if one is not “present” in the cyberspace (he or she doesn’t have a Facebook account, etc.), one is usually significantly excluded from social life, since, for instance after creating a group of friends on a site like Facebook, these friends often communicate there among themselves, leaving other people unaware of their arrangements.
But social networks and other sites are not the last steps in the cyberspace evolution as it also triggers other mechanisms. That’s what I meant by saying above that the cyberspace lives its own life- data put there by us is later “reused” in many different ways. For instance, it inspires researches and artists, who create projects based on data from these sites. Apart from examples we can find in our textbook, I would like to provide you with an interesting example of a Dutch artist, Mirjam Pet-Jacobs, who creates works of art based on information from newspapers, magazines and the Internet, but especially from social network systems, like Facebook, Myspace, Hyves or LinkedIn. More information about her can be found here:
http://www.mirjampetjacobs.nl/Current/current.htm
http://auribuzz.wordpress.com/2009/05/09/jack-and-jill-are-friends-work-of-art-based-on-facebook-by-mirjam-pet-jacobs/

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Private sphere endangered?

By Laure Maron

During the class of May 17th, we discussed the distinction Habermas, a German philosopher, made between two kinds of spheres: the public sphere and the private sphere. Private sphere is defined as being places where we are free to do whatever we want while public sphere is composed of all places that are used by different people at the same time and so, that must be free from ideologies and personal issues (including emotions and offensive religious signs) to be able to live in harmony and in a democratic society.

Nevertheless, the distinction between those two spheres becomes more and more blurred and it seems like our occidental ancestors’ efforts to make the private sphere become a fundamental right to everyone were in vain. Indeed, nowadays we can see more and more people displaying their private life to everyone, some of them even being ready to turn themselves ridiculous or endangering their own life in order to get other people’s attention and get their own “fifteen minutes of fame”.

(See http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gg8Ne5NhG2Y&feature=related for example).

[The expression “fifteen minutes of fame” was first used by Andy Warhol in 1968 when he said that ‘In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes’ and it is now widely used to refer to figures in the entertainment industry or other areas of popular culture, such as reality TV and YouTube.]

Moreover, more and more of our personal information that should remain part of our private sphere are made public and most of the time, we can avoid it. People give too often and too easily information about themselves, without even thinking this information could be used for different purposes than those that were claimed and that sometimes it could be bad for their own freedom.

In conclusion, we have to keep in mind that our freedom is very important and precious, and once what should have remained in our private sphere does not anymore, this freedom is threatened. Living 15 minutes of fame is not worth giving up one’s freedom.

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