Assessment 2: Critical Analysis – “Future Events” by Louis Pratt

Being able to adapt and manipulate the idea of a self-portrait in the modern age is quite an undertaking,  however it is a task that seems to have been easily undertaken by Louis Pratt’s ‘Future Events’. This sculpture embodies everything that the ‘Out of Hand: Materializing the Digital’ exhibition represents, as Louis Pratt utilizes emerging technologies to effectively and uniquely relay their potential in the art world. He effectively merges the physical with the digital through his work, through a process in which he takes organic data, manipulates it digitally, and reproduces the finished result in physical form; blurring the lines between both worlds.

Pratt himself describes his process step by step on his personal website; he starts by taking 3D scan data of real people and then manipulating them with ‘digital tools’ to create something unique. This is a critical part of his process, as Pratt makes it a point to constantly use ‘organic data’ that is manipulated through algorithms and Boolean mathematics. He then creates multiple prototypes to tweak his creations exactly how he wishes, sending multiple iterations of his works back and form between the digital space and the real world. He then uses 3D printing in experimental ways to casts and materials. Pratt has also made the messages he wishes to deliver through his work very clear on the same site, stating that he “makes the point that we are at an historical point in history in terms of technology and its effects on our lives. His approach is to examine and mimic a global process in works of art. At one level he depicts our appetite for fossil fuels, while at an another he looks at our insatiable desire for the cyber world. Social issues pervade Louis’ work, he sees his art as a mirror reflecting where we are socially and historically. Sometimes the tone is reproachful but mostly his art examines the contemporary world with a sense of its beauty.” (Louis Pratt, 2017)

‘Future Events’ definitely continues the trend of Pratt’s former work as it depicts multiple scans of the artist himself in many different poses and attitudes having been melded together and produced as a 3D printed sculpture. This follows his process closely – starting with scans of organic subject (in this instance, himself); he transfers these to the digital space in which he can freely combine the images into a single being ; and then he brings the new creation back into the physical by 3d printing it. By having a physical presence in the world, this sculpture produces an aura of being otherworldly, yet familiar as it depicts a sense of motion, despite originally being static images. With this sculpture, Pratt specifically wished to provide a commentary on the multiple selves required for contemporary life. To shed light on the way that we present ourselves differently through many different facets of life, which could perhaps pertain to adjusting our personalities slightly based on a certain situation or the company we happen to be around at the time. Often you would conduct yourself differently in a workplace environment than in a casual encounter with friends, adopting a more official and composed version of yourself that masks your actual personality in an effort to stay professional in your career. Or perhaps he is highlighting the different way we present ourselves online compared to our physical presence and how two faced we can seem when protected by a screen, having his message behind his artwork that transcends the physical and digital space do the very same.

Pratt also incorporates elements of quantum computing and, by extension, the simultaneous existence of multiple quantum states. A Quantum state pertains to the states of particles and is described as a vector that contains all the information about a system. However, you can generally extract only a portion of that information from a quantum state due to both the uncertainty principle and the nature of quantum mechanics itself. An important aspect of quantum states is that although they supposedly contain all of the information about a system, you can only use them to know the probability of something to happen or the expected value of some observable. The principle of multiple quantum states existing at the same time is known as quantum superposition and it can be argued that “Future Events” presents a very abstract physical depiction of this phenomenon. This is an interesting aspect of the piece because, as a volunteer at the MAAS museum stated in his review of the ‘Out of Hand’ exhibit; it serves as “a platform to establish a dialogue with people, giving them access to the information they might think they don’t need, but actually being familiar with contemporary digital developments will empower people from any walks of life and from any cultural and linguistic background. Knowledge about often invisible scientific discoveries can engage people from other fields and create a platform for sharing ideas.”  (Out of hand: “Future events” by Louis Pratt – Volunteer Insights – Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, 2017). Pratt’s ideals constantly line up with the idea of creating dialogues to inspire and by incorporating his love for algorithms into his work in this way, “Future Events” is a powerful conduit through which he can do this.

‘Future  Events’ shows the potential of the technology it utilized, showcasing the many advancements that have made it a powerful tool in the contemporary art scene. The details in the sculpture are very precise, being in part due to how intricate the 3D scanning technology is. Being able to capture a human model in that much detail is no small feat, but with the technology as it is now it can be done both accurately and efficiently. 3D laser scanners capture shapes of physical objects through, as the name suggests, a line of laser light. Using this laser the scanners create “point clouds” of data based on the surface of the object it scans and creates a digital representation with the same size and shape. The description of what 3D scanning is on laserdesign.com states that “3D laser scanning is ideally suited to the measurement and inspection of contoured surfaces and complex geometries which require massive amounts of data for their accurate description and where doing this is impractical with the use of traditional measurement methods or a touch probe.” (What Is 3D Scanning | Laser Design, 2017). To further cement that this technology is the most versatile when it comes to capturing the organic shapes that Pratt utilizes in ‘Future Events’.

As a lot of the work’s mystique comes from the fact that it has a physical form and as such, it effectively highlights the progression of 3D printing technologies. Generally the process of creating a model through 3D printing begins with utilizing certain software to ‘slice’ a 3D model into multiple horizontal layers. Once this is done, the printer creates the model through an additive process by creating the model through the successive layers, either by melting or softening material.  The material used differs, and can range from plastic and metal to various polymers, as well as even being able to create objects through living cells. The specific method that produces the object can also be different depending on the type of printer used. Whilst this process has many practical and industrial uses, such as creating artificial kidneys, prosthetic limbs, food and car parts, Pratt’s work showcases its more creative uses. Creating art in this form not only proves what this technology is capable of, but (following Pratt’s theme of creating dialogue through his works) question what it will be capable of in the future, and how we will be able to push our current technologies to their very limits.

By successfully presenting his work in this way, Pratt becomes a precursor for the implementation of 3D technologies in a museum space. He creates intriguing and surreal artworks using technologies that only now are starting to become more accessible, and through this helps to usher museums into a new era in which historical artefacts are able to be accurately canned and reproduces in online spaces. This future is most evident when looking into the Smithsonian X 3D project, which is an online repository that already allows you to examine animal bones, David Livingstone’s gun and Abraham Lincoln’s death mask. Pratt’s work is able to introduce new people to these technologies as they continue to emerge and showcase the many possibilities that new artists will be able to pursue with them beyond just the practical.

Although Pratt does embrace the idea of technology in his work, he is also known to be very weary of it. Through his art, he wishes to create awareness of the Orwellian idea of ‘Big Brother’ that through the introduction of so many new technologies seems to be encroaching on our society. He himself has been quoted as saying “We observe and take in technology without any resistance. We don’t understand how much of our lives are already being manipulated by algorithms.” (Meet the prints of sculpture, 2017). This, of course, refers to the idea of selective advertising and ways that data is collected through our many interactions online. Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have made it so easy for our likes and interests to be collected among other personal data and utilized in such a way that can be likened to brainwashing. This information can be used to identify what type of pages you visit and products you might like and then bombard you with suggestions related to these in an effort to get you to subliminally purchase a company’s products. This links to “Future Events” idea of multiple selves, in that interactions through the internet can be easily recorded to create almost like a separate identity. A digital presence that has your likes and interests, but is separate to your physical self and only seen as an online consumer to some seemingly omniscient manipulator at the other end of a computer screen.  This work can just as easily warn viewers of the dangers of technology, almost as much as it is a monument to the advancements that it provides.

Overall, “Future Events” is a piece that perfectly encapsulates everything that the “Out of Hand” exhibition is about. Pratt has successfully utilized the technology at his disposal to create unique pieces that create conversation amongst peers, art enthusiasts and everyday people alike. It is a work that is able to make multiple statements about the impact technology has on our life and the multiple personalities that we adopt as we navigate the new social elements that have been introduced alongside the internet. In doing so he has simultaneously exhibited the potential of 3D technologies in the art field and blurred the lines between organic data and digital data. His perspective of his work clearly rings true through “Future Events”, as it certainly works as a mirror reflecting where we are historically.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

Week 6: Project Proposal

It’s extremely difficult to adapt the written word into a workable concept for my final project, as a lot of the work focuses around the manipulation of words in a unique and creative way. This is difficult to do with the large amount of rules and conventions language has to follow. So, for my final project I found it in my best interest to give the written word a more physical presence. This could be done in pursuing my word tree idea, and instead of having it be a collaborative effort, I could perhaps create the word tree as a sculpture. It could be crafted as a 3d model that branches off and connects a multitude of words and common themes together in a space, as opposed to being written and presented on a 2d surface. This could be crafted with any materials that would be strong and sturdy enough to support it. The more creative avenues a word has, the more branches can be built off of it with some branches generating a multitude of outcomes and others remaining stagnant. This could be an interesting way to represent the creativity of storytelling, but also the developmental process the brain undertakes when reverse engineering a concept.

Alternatively, in the pursuit of this visual aspect of language, I could create a digital installation that would primarily display close-ups of people’s mouths. Each mouth would read from a pre-written selection of sentences; however each could read it either in a separate language or with a unique accent. These clips could all be presented side-by-side and mostly muted, perhaps with only one screen being audible so the word being said can be understood by the audience. This would draw focus on the different shapes the mouth can take in the pronunciation of specific words, and could be an interesting way to present differences in speech.

Ultimately, with my final project I wish to present a media that if often used in a way that it not often seen, shifting the focus the meaning words themselves.

Week 5: Research your Project

I have done quite a large amount of research into a multitude of different writing styles and quirks with a large focus on song writing and the techniques that constitute that. I already had a sufficient background in fiction writing and decided it was worthwhile adapting my writing style into a new format. This pursuit of song writing lead to me investigating language techniques such as the glottal stop, which is a noise that is produced when obstructing airflow in the vocal tract – a term that is not well known but is produced often throughout regular, everyday speech. Although, centring a project around just this phenomenon seemed daunting and so I refocused my research.

A large amount of my newfound song writing knowledge came through the observation of a Youtube channel called ‘Mat4yo’. Mat4yo’s channel hosts a large collection of original raps, and rap breakdowns where he disassembles a song to describe how and why each line works in the context of song writing format. This was extremely helpful in reverse engineering quite a few songs to find out how they work. As well as these videos, Mat4yo recently started a tutorial series in which he teaches people his specific creative process for creative writing.

This was an interesting source of information, but I was still struggling to find an idea that could be workshopped as a project. That was, until I saw his second tutorial video titled ‘Exploiting All Ideas in Writing’, where he goes into extreme detail on how to create and utilize a ‘Word Tree’.

A ‘Word Tree’ is not a concept that Mat4yo created, it’s a very basic creative writing technique to fully connect every idea that you may have related to your project in the most efficient way. However, his breakdown and ability to get down to the barebones of the ‘Word Tree’ made me realise that this could perhaps be the road to pursue in terms of my final project.

A ‘Word Tree’ is used to link ideas to create separate branches that create their own linking ideas and so on and so forth until you have enough material to fully understand what it is you wish to be writing about. If I could somehow find some way to make this an interactive aspect of writing and have others contribute to it, it would be an effective way of reflecting the differing multiple points of view and the versatility of collaborations on creative projects.

Week 4: Research Opportunities

Writing and storytelling require a combination of different creative outlets to fully utilize its versatility as a craft. This allows for a multitude of opportunities in terms of career paths and options depending on how easily one can adapt their writing style to different mediums.

An interesting path to take would be that of the screenwriter, as seeing your written work be adapted into live action can be quite enthralling. However the opportunities for having your script be picked up (especially with Australia’s very poor film industry) would be slim to none. It involves advertising your scripts to a multitude of producers in the hopes that one of them will actually read it – or forking out a tonne of cash to get an agent that may or may not do this networking for you. If I were to take this avenue I would have to perhaps move to a more film-oriented city such as Los Angeles and really bank all of my luck on pitching scripts.

I also have the opportunity to just be an author, perhaps refining my writing style to better fit a novel’s structure. This would allow me to have almost complete control over the stories that I tell and construct a world from the ground up. However, this avenue would be heavily reliant on publishers and sales and unless I could consistently sustain a certain quality of work would only operate more as a temporary career.

Finally, I could sacrifice more creative liberties to adopt a career in Journalism. Although this would be more of a challenge, as it doesn’t allow me to play to my strongest advantage in writing – fiction. Reporting on news stories or writing reviews is just as creative as any other opportunities one can get in this field, but the storytelling adopts a more anecdotal stance, as any pieces one would write has to read as a recount of events rather than a story created from scratch. I feel that this avenue would limit my potential exponentially as I feel I use writing as a more creative outlet rather than an informative one.

So by practicing and evolving my writing and writing styles, I’ll have multiple opportunities in this field that will allow me to fully embrace the various structures and techniques that help to shape the written word.

Week 3: Research your Hero

When it comes to practitioners in my field there are quite a few that are literary masters – Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Kendrick Lemar… But by specifically using the word “hero”, that is to say the person I look up to the most. However, that person may seem like quite an unorthodox choice.

Arin “Egoraptor” Hanson started out his career as an online animator during the early days of the internet and has since then gained an increasing amount of popularity. His rise to fame began with his most famous contribution to Newgrounds, “Metal Gear Awesome” – an animation that satirises the ridiculous scenarios and situations that arise in the 1998 action-adventure stealth videogame “Metal Gear Solid”. This gained traction and spawned the rest of what Ego has dubbed, “The Awesome Series” in which he continues to parody the bizarre logic that appears across a wide variety of other videogames.

‘The Awesome Series’ really showcases Ego’s knack for creative and innovative writing when it comes to both parody and comedy. He’s integrated this talent into both his animations and his new creative avenue of “Game Grumps”. Game Grumps is a company that Ego now heads that started out simply as a Youtube channel, but transcended that to go on and create a variety of different content. Whether it’s live action skits advertising a new series or product, or an album of songs that draw a great deal of similarities to his ‘Awesome Series’ in how much they satirise the videogame industry; Game Grumps works as a way for Ego to evolve his writing style and adapt it to so many more mediums. His comedy became more versatile and able to reach grander audiences without sacrificing any of the original Egoraptor charm that makes his works so compelling in the first place.

It’s this ability to adapt his writing and embrace new mediums so effortlessly that makes me admire Ego as a content creator. Being able to manipulate your style in a way that is out of your comfort zone and still have it recognized as your style is quite impressive. It’s this willingness to evolve that has led him to his successful online presence. Going from a simple online animator that creates work for fun to running a successful and profitable business that integrates your passions is also a feat that is quite admirable. To achieve that amount of success while just doing what you love is a path that I would also like to follow, which definitely makes Arin Hanson and the path he has taken a hero in my eyes.

Week 2: Research your Field

Writing is a broad medium can be utilized with many different lenses to tell an engaging story. Throughout time the formats and rules that allowed stories to be shared were manipulated and altered to become more accessible to different mediums. What started as oral storytelling easily transcended it’s limitations with large changes over time such as the introduction of music (forming songs and ballads) and the printing press allowing the mass production of and easy access to stories from all around the world.

What remained constant in all formats however, are three common historical vectors. The first being the structures themselves being developed to effectively tell a story, and give a storyteller a defined set of rules to do so. These rules can be broken of course, and different rules apply to different mediums depending on the context – but the most basic rules of structure are essential to conveying the message that the writer wants to convey clearly and efficiently. This can be seen in the evolution of ‘The Hero’s Journey’ which is a basic storytelling formula that applies to most stories about the adventure of a single hero. This concept has become such a staple in writing that it is still used for telling modern stories that aren’t necessarily a single hero going on a quest. Writer Dan Harmon has recently appropriated ‘The Hero’s Journey’ into a more contemporary layout to explain how it influences his writing.

Another important historical vector of writing is how an author relates to his audience, and how much they understand the needs and wants of society at the time. Humankind is constantly evolving and developing, along with their tastes in literature and approach to certain topics. Although some works are often so influential that they transcend time and are still analysed today; most texts are lost as what resonated with audiences in the past may not resonate with a more contemporary audience. It’s important for a writer, as a storyteller, to understand what type of story their audience would like to hear. The social context also sometimes influences how prestigious a text may be in the future, become more like a historical artefact as opposed to simply a story told for entertainment, as seen with stories such as Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” which provides interesting insight into race relations or a majority of Shakespeare’s works.

The last of the three vectors is in the presentation of the story. The introduction of technology has made it exceedingly easy for writing to influence multiple different mediums. You can capture different audiences with different presentation methods. For example; as a story that is told through text on a page may not be as well received as a story told through song lyrics, however the text on a page may provide more in depth details than the song as the structure of a novel and presentation of the information on a page to read at your leisure makes it easier to do so. Presentation can also play a big role in the text itself as seen with the introduction of kinetic typography. This is generally used for music videos, to make the lyrics more understandable in an engaging way; with the written words appearing on-screen with interesting and energetic movements. This gives the words themselves more power and provides a different way for the audience to interpret and connect with the text. A great example of kinetic typography giving power to words is in the flash short animated by Ricepirate titled “Dot Dot Dot” in which a petty anonymous user review of an animation is given a much more intense aura through the words shown and accompanying music.

Week 1: Define your Practice and your Field

The practice that I think I have the most interest in would have to be writing. More specifically, the story-telling capabilities of the written word and the unique ways that ideas can be conveyed through it. It’s a flexible art form that, while following strict rules and language conventions, is still able to be manipulated into varying forms and styles. Whether it is an action packed screenplay that outlines a character’s quest from zero to hero, a poem that describes the horrors of war or a song about the city you grew up in, each form of the written word is able to both convey a message and illicit emotional responses in the reader. Moreover, the language conventions and grammatical rules that are applied only in specific circumstances give each style of writing a unique flair that easily differentiates it from others. This flexibility and variety, as well as written works often being catalysts for other forms of media (i.e. song-writing being somewhat derived from poetry, movie scripts being based off of a basic narrative format) is what interests me the most about this practice.

Creative writing is something that everybody is capable of, but there are a lot of nuanced skills required to be a good writer. Understanding the different structures and rules associated with writing is obviously very important to the practice, and being able to utilize them all effectively will yield the greatest improvements any work you produce. However, beyond simply the format of the text they wish to produce, a good writer would also be observant, a good judge of character, and very inquisitive. They would be very aware of their surroundings and able to utilize all interactions and observations they may have to produce a relatable work that could potentially resonate with a wide audience. They are very subtle skills that also require a lot of attention and refinement. It’s important that they have a good sense of timing as well, so as to not draw a story out for too long but still be able to appropriately create suspense or produce some type of catharsis in the reader.

There is abundance of people to admire in this field, and although I believe that working this medium into my final project may be challenging, the versatility the practice provides will help to produce a decent final result.