by Beauchamp Art
BA6 Essay Feedback
In my main feedback for BA6, my essay was commented as being strong, but still in need of development:
“The essay’s intention of questioning notions of individual (and social) behaviour in the context of remediation is sophisticated in argument in respect of technological proliferation, drawing on thorough analysis of examples and a range of critical contexts, with some neat analogies with perspective and useful reference to photography. Notions of real and simulacrum point to further parallels with language.”
“Notions of individuality are less clear here than your command of the ubiquitous media bombardment of the sensorium, as indicated in your final Shakespearian apercu. You might consider further development of this via language (Chomsky, for example), neuroscience and other biological-philosophical approaches (phenomenology, Harraway etc). Perhaps the examples could reflect a wider range of criticality – moving beyond the self-referentiality of the machine to a broader cultural/ontological perspective.”
After getting my essay back with annotations, which began with an immediate questioning of the title; querying the phrase ‘remediated individual’, as Remediation is not typically a characteristic of individuals. Perhaps begin with remediation and make it a focus of your intentions to consider the ontological status of the terms. I have thus to take more time to consider the language use in my own writing and examinations. As ‘remediation’ is not a standard term, and may need its own point of reference for the reader, or a means of clarifying the specific intention of this choice of terminology; coming from the research into Bolter and Grusin. Though likewise, specifying the nature of the ‘ontological’ examination could help focus my argument for the extended essay, as such the term refers to the philosophical study of existence and reality. This in conjunction with the prior term may have helped clarify my argument. However, through the process of redrafting, the full question was refined, possibly to the degree of it causing a problematic level of ambiguity; the choice in terminology being inappropriate for the purpose.
Perhaps a better question would have been how do contemporary visual artists present the ontology of the individual as remediated through online mediums? Or even doing away with the ‘individual’ entirely, bringing that into the introduction, rather that containing everything awkwardly within the title.
Another problem was that I had made points without leaving enough room to expand upon them, which was especially problematic given that I had gone over the word limit quite considerably (as I was unaware that citations were not excluded from the word count). As one particular point I made: “Much as behaviour has to be reinterpreted with an expanding infrastructure, from the individual, to the city, to the Internet” was noted as needing its own paragraph. However, as this point was added near the end of the drafting process (perhaps cumbersomely, based on the back of a discussion on Radio 4) it could have done to be cut, or put aside for later development.
Indeed, there are a number of areas I would care to develop further, whether in the dissertation, or other future projects; whether written or practical (I do not see the end of the degree as a conclusion, rather a start of a career.) Hence I intend to do the 10,000 word essay, rather than the 5,000, as that gives me the opportunity to unpack all the points I make. Therefore, it may be advisable that my draft to be completed by the end of the year contains all the points and areas I wish to discuss, with the majority of the research (aiming for around 2,500 words, which will inevitably result in 5,000) then continue to feed into it over the extended period.
Furthermore, one point my tutor raised, was when I was discussing Baudrillard’s simulacrum (that I did not explicitly refer to in my text, and should I write on this subject again it would beneficial to do so; hence reading into his Simulations) I could have gone on to query the interrogation of the interrelationship between the internal and external manifestations of the self, which could be an especially useful bridge into subsequent writing and development:
“What is the relationship between the projected ego and the reflected ego? Does one automatically become the other or do the two states tend to grow apart? Connectivity […] is the crux. Phenomenological issues may be helpful […] though I suspect that the pscho-dynamics of capitalism are also potent in disentangling this.”
This raises a number of issues that I may take further; the capitalist and economic considerations are of concern but not a central area for my current investigations. However, as this is intrinsically linked to the individual within society, which is a greater precedent with my overarching progress and will undoubtedly form the bedrock of my dissertation, then a section on how the economic concerns surrounding media and reproducibility could be useful, and would enable me to draw more fastidiously on Walter Benjamin’s The Work Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, potentially touching on Marxist theory, and Richard Dawkins theory of the ‘meme’ in The Selfish Gene; the notion of the information/attention economy, feeding off Dr Stefana Broadent’s lecture on A Social History of Attention, thereby tying it back to the effects on humanity. However, this small discussion itself could potentially be quite expansive, and finding examples of relevant artworks must always be at the forefront of the mind: as I am writing an essay relating (in some way) to contemporary art practice, and not a pseudo-socio-techno-philosophical text.
This is a problematic area for me in this essay, as I did not talk about the works specifically at length, but used more as punctuation to points more thoroughly grounded in academic, textual; analytical discourse. Although I did investigate the works mentioned, as the works were all by young, practicing artists, there was not much to be found about them specifically, although having first-hand research from Dan Hay’s lecture was especially useful, as was understanding the technical construction behind Rollin Leonard’s works from reading press releases and watching an interview in which he describes how he made the work. Though it was equally useful seeing how Evan Roth’s piece was contextualised by the space and surrounding information about how the piece mention was displayed. Though I tried to mention only that which I found relevant, it could be seen that I overlooked the importance of some of the structural components of the work.
Moreover, the authenticity of photography as problematic was also another issue I only touched upon but would warrant a more generous area of debate, as is the issue of technology and language, which again could be fruit for an extended investigation. As would a greater look into neurology in the development of remediation as ontology, again link back to the existence of the self, as well as the issue of the “technological trap, as if there is nothing beyond technology.” A somewhat terrifying concept, that would tie in with the problems of post-humanism, relating back to representations and the extensions of man through networks, and the limits of the mediums which transmit and store information and the digital self (going back to the projected ego, and how that manifests from the self and is modified by deviant reflections).
I had a few problems with formatting and the layout of my references, but nothing too seriously concerning, besides going over the word limit so considerably. Nevertheless, it was pleasing to see that my Shakespearian conclusion was approved of (simply marked with ‘Yes.’ thus was justifiably relevant, rather than was seen as a pretentious aside. Its literary connotations are as useful as the brief examinations of language earlier in the essay).
Further Reading & Dissertation
After revisiting the essay and the discussion with Victoria, I was recommended a number of texts for further reading. So immediately took out Deleuze & Guattari’s ‘A Thousand Plateaus’ (despite being warned against its own linguistic and thematic complexity), Paul Virilio’s ‘The Vision Machine’, Roland Barthes’s ‘Camera Lucida’, and Alexander Galloway’s ‘The Interface Effect’ (however, this last text was not recommended to me, but seemed to be relevant, as did David Shenk’s ‘Data Smog’, which I am still in the process of reading from the UEA’s library). This seems a fair start to the BA7 research (though I intend to use my existing references again in the dissertation, as I know them well, they are still thematically relevant, and I was informed that my use of Manovich and other key texts was well executed). However, I still intend to read more, including Manuel Castells’ The Rise of the Network Society’, Zizek, Wollheim, Chomsky (for a more informed understanding of language in relation to technological developments, and the parallels therein, possibly in his ‘Necessary Illusions’ or ‘Manufacturing Consent’. Having read his text ‘On Anarchism’ a number of years a go, I am familiar with his style of writing, and know it could be greatly useful) and a few other authors.
This will hopefully go towards a thoroughly thought through critical examination of digital media, or more specifically; the phenomenology of the virtual everyday, and the affects of digital representation on the individuals’ perception of the image. Looking into media, but always relating it back to the effects on the individual. Touching on subjects involving representation, remediation, simulation, perception, post-humanism (though only briefly will this be examined explicitly, as it is implicitly relevant throughout the other investigations, however it may be worth stating this directly), banality/overload and the technological sublime – which may prove an effective gateway into linking this proposed techno-sociological text back to issues in art.
However, I still need to specify what I shall be investigating, as there are numerous areas for development that came of this project, and ideas stemming from older work and research, such as the problematic nature of the banality of horror as represented through visual media.
Further Reading (List)
- Barthes, Roland – Camera Lucida
- Bolter, David – Windows and Mirrors
- Castells, Manuel – The Rise of the Network Society
- Chomsky, Noam – Necessary Illusions/Manufacturing Consent
- Deleuze & Guattari – A Thousand Plateaus
- Friedberg, Anne – The Virtual Window
- Galloway, Alexander – The Interface Effect
- Haraway, Donna – Cyborg Manifesto
- Shenk, David – Data Smog
- Sontag, Susan – Regarding the Pain of Others
- Virilio, Paul – The Vision Machine
BA6 Practical Feedback
As I received a mark of 71% for this unit, averaging the year with a first; with BA4 and 5 resulting in 70% each, my exact average is 70.3 recurring – an appropriately infinitesimal mark given my prolific outcome, as acknowledge by my tutor, Krzysztof.
“Once again you have produced a very extensive (exhaustive!) body of work for BA6, demonstrating an extremely high level of ambition and commitment to your ongoing practice: in the case of this unit., this means not only a substantial body of new work in a range of media, but also full documentation and reflection of two effective collaborative exhibition projects (one co-curated by you), along with evidence of your pursuit of a number of other exhibition opportunities. Some really strong writing, anchored in excellent research, underpins the portfolios.
The core of your practice continues and develops the concern with digital media and platforms from previous units in a coherent and very reflective manner; significantly, other aspects of your practice such as drawing which felt slightly tangential to your work in earlier unit has now found a clearer integration into your thinking, particularly in the Firstsite work which explores and problematises the digital and the manual in some intriguing ways.”
“The now familiar comment on your practice is once again to do with focus and editing: the sheer quantity of material you generate is both an issue for the viewer/reader – it’s sometimes hard to get a sense of priorities and the specific focus of your work overall begins to blur – but also presumably for you, in terms of knowing how to highlight and home in on a smaller number of projects. Diversifying your concerns beyond screen/lens based media towards performance, installation, drawing and conceptual works feels promising, but again, this many new developments, viable as they may all be, has the effect of making it less clear where exactly you wish to take all of this. Your mark for BA6 should make clear that none of this is a big problem now, but as you start to position yourself towards BA7 and BA8 you’ll want to hone a really clear, specific and distinctive focus of investigation in the face of your prodigious ambition !””
Future Practical work:
With regards to my continued practice, I intend to further develop my use of interconnected digital media that inform and benefit one another, taking more consideration for how work could be displayed (rather that statically displayed on a dynamic digital screen), further integrating interaction and audience interfacing, through performance and more experimental means of display, given the two most successful works I have produced thus far (with regards to the level of audience response) was my performance at the Sainsbury Center, A Better Place, in which I watched static on a TV for three hours, inviting the public to sit beside me at the end of the first year, and the Colchester piece for Just a Day at Firstsite, where I produced a video from the re-photographed images of the city from Google Images on a computer screen, from which I, and other members of the public (and fellow artists) attempted to draw from onto a blackboard. And to a lesser extent, the macro-projection of the Field Cataracts video as part of the Projectcejorp exhibition concluding the workshops with Mark Ariel Waller in the Project Space at NUA.
Besides the temporary drawing at Firstsite, I have produced no real physical works for the entirety of the year, besides a vast number of A4 sketches, a few charcoal life-drawings, and the paintings made with the material left on my palette from the end of the first year (although, some aspects of the display of Field boarded on installation, as the presence of the projector, below eye level, displayed with a magnifying glass attached to the front of the lens, took the work beyond that of a basic video display).
Nevertheless, I would not wish to totally distance myself from painting, as it is still a potentially usefully media (and can be used for related subject matter as that which I am engaging with, as evidenced by Dan Hay’s Colorado series, one example being discussed at length in my BA7 essay). My recent exploration of the local practitioners, as part of the OPEN artists studios reinforced its potential use (though more so after another discussion with Will Teather, whose studio I was able to have a look around, and also has provided positive support through leading the life drawing classes at NUA).
However, I still have remained distant from actively engaging with the painting process, as it has felt irrelevant and unnecessary for the most part, as digital media suit a digital subject matter (possibly too neatly). Although, as I am reasonably experience with oil painting and drawing (as well as having practical knowledge of a range of printing techniques I have not used at all for the length of the degree thus far, besides a few practical workshops for my own benefit rather than forwarding my critical practice – though it has been strongly recommended that I make use of them when they are available, and they can be especially useful for producing artist multiples for the third-year degree-show) it would seem foolish to totally disregard ‘practical media’.
Nevertheless, as “Duchamp wrote: ‘I have never stopped painting. Every painting must exist in your mind before it is painted on the canvas and it always loses something in the painting. I’d rather see my painting without the murk.’” [Duchamp in Virilio, 1994: 16] And as my vision for an outcome is always unfix and unclear, needing action to produce a conclusion, or otherwise undermining the necessity to instigate a manual resolve. In other words, I do not have a clear idea of what I intend the final product of my creative endeavours to look like, and if I did it would seem pointless to make them, and my efforts would be better spent describing them and/or the motivations and concept behind my approach and thematic considerations. Otherwise I would simply be illustrating ideas, which is not necessarily and invalid approach to creating artworks (it is the historical basis of all pre-Modern art, and continues to be the resolve of many artists or other creative individuals – though even creativity is not necessarily relevant or useful in the theoretical approach to practical making; well established techniques can produce new ideas and/or perspectives – such as in the aforementioned case of Dan Hays, whose of the traditional media of oil paints in a contemporary format generates further discourse).
Furthermore, instigated by my peer Marcia openly asking the necessity to accompany one’s work with a description of its size, I suggested that for a digital audience, image resolution is more relevant than the original dimensions of a physical piece of art. To paraphrase Andy Warhol, if ‘everything is surface’, then its scale is irrelevant, as it its media, the nature of the artist themselves (a reflexive lament on the notion of the death of the author being the birth of the audience [Barthes, 1967], thereby sublimating the producing individual’s relevance or personal contextualisation) and anything, even its physical/optical/digital appearance is irrelevant to critical discussion, only the phenomenological experience of a work need be considered, though this may be contemplated in relevance to its media, artist, etc, but they need not be discussed in isolation.
It is not Warhol’s surface that is of concern then, but rather in individual or society’s contact with it that is significant. Though this does conjure up issues surrounding the unreliability of the individual’s experience and their ability to communicate whilst being critically aware of their own biases, as well as the psychosomatic consequences of context (if one goes to see a Turner, one expects a sublime experience, so may project their own prejudice onto the work in their interaction with it) as well as the impossibility of the individual interacting in a vacuum, without considerations for the pragmatics of their engagement within a framework of their society.
- Barthes, Roland. (1967) Death of the Author. Aspen, no. 5-6.
- Virilio, Paul. (1994) The Vision Machine. BFI Publishing: Indiana University Press.