Installation in Progress, FAIL

Installation in progress

Here’s a little shot of the 5 into 1 installation before they are up on the wall. I was trying to use this show as a way of devising a hanging solution that could be broken down to make it more portable/storable. However, it was a resounding FAIL, so I had to undo an hour and a half’s work of hanging and resort to classic alligator clips. Visually I don’t really mind it, but it doesn’t scream “elegant solution” the way I’d like. Ultimately, I want no frame or structure or clips, just the print on the wall. if you have any ideas about how to do that, let me know.

5 into 1 show

I have work in the upcoming 5 into 1 show being held at Moore. Each year the show features work of graduating students from the 5 philly art schools. It’s great to be selected (along with sara gersbach) and be recognized for my work. I’m honestly using this as a trial run for a few ideas for my thesis, so it was nice to be able to see how a few things worked in print and in the gallery. I am slightly confused by the fact that when I submitted work, it was through my program director, Paul, who told us about the show as the 5 school show. However, the invitation card clearly calls it a “sculpture” show. Well, my work is clearly not sculptural (and neither is sara’s), but it was accepted in, so I guess I shouldn’t feel awkward about that. Anyway, the reception is on June 2nd at Moore in the afternoon, so come and check it out. These are the prints I got into the show, but really, you need to see them in person, full size.

Social Status, Jake

Social Status, Joe

Social Status, Mallory

Found Identity

One part of my thesis brings up a digital world problem of other people having more control over your identity than you. Think about it, each image that is uploaded with you in it tells a story about your identity, but it doesn’t have to be you that posted them. Friends or complete strangers that have snapped a shot of you can post and comment without your knowledge, and whatever that image says about you becomes a part of your digital identity. Since people tend to trust a third party’s description instead of someone describing themselves, these extraneous bits of identity are often taken as more legitimate than anything you could post yourself. This also means that interaction in the social media sphere is practically mandated if you want any say about your own identity. Each of us is in an uphill battle, fighting for control of our virtual selves, but its a battle that can only be perpetually fought, never won and often lost.
After thinking about this I decided to attempt to track down every image on Facebook that has me in it that I did not post. So far I have gathered 175 of these “found images”, and now I am taking those and reconstructing self portraits from groups of them. I don’t think its possible to retake my virtual identity, but at the very least I want to know how I am presented.

Found Image Self-Portrait

Memory and Technology

A book I’m reading for thesis says that the “Internet is a technology of forgetfulness”. That sounds counterintuitive at first. Everything that can be archived, is, ensuring that nothing will be forgotten (as long as compatibility holds out, but that’s another issue). But with that as such a reassurance, I have no motivation to remember anything, ever. If Facebook didn’t remind us of our friend’s birthdays, would you still remember them? There are almost no questions that can’t be answered with a few taps on the keyboard, but what does that do to us as people? It separates us from any ownership of knowledge, of the stuff it takes to live life. We constantly rely on this external force to remember for us, and eventually it will come to the point where we forget how to be people and how to merely exist.

Anyway, I’ve been working pretty intensely back and forth on my written and visual thesis. I have found that they are informing one another in a really beneficial way, to the point that I think I’ll need to continue doing some reading and writing in future work.

These are two different versions of an image that I"m currently working on. They are created by combining an image from every single one of my Facebook friends’ profiles. I wanted to make it after thinking about identity, information overload, and the ambiguity vs. specificity that is at play online. It was a surprise (and a happy one) that a reasonably specific form was created. I was expecting a blur, but instead I got a new figure, that if they actually existed I think they would be recognizable.
Right now on my written thesis I’m working on filling out my section on Google as the “dialectical good evil”(Christian Fuchs, Google Capitalism). There are an awful lot of things at play, but when looking at the situation from one step back, we have to ask whether Google is actually holding to its slogan “Don’t be Evil”, or if its exploitation of the “audience commodity” reveals its true colors as just another money grubbing global corporation. You’ll have to actually read my thesis to find out more.

Open Studio Tonight; 1st Year Review

If you happen to be in Philly tonight around 5, come and stop by Moore (its next to the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Franklin Institute). Ben and the four other graduate students are hosting an Open Studio, which means you can go in and look at what they’ve been working on this summer. They’re on the 5th floor- once you get cleared by security they should be able to point you to the elevators.


Before the Open Studio, the first-year graduate students in studio art are being reviewed by several artists/professors, including the artist/Graduate Program Manager Paul Hubbard (official site). This is the ‘qualifying review’ that takes place now that the first semester is complete. It is in preparation for the important mid-program review that will happen next summer, when students will be evaluated on their work and whether or not they are creating art at a level worthy of an MFA degree.

Tomorrow Ben will bring his work home and set up a space for himself in the loft, which will be his studio until next July. At that time, he will go to Ireland for a four-week residency at Burren College of Art.

But for now, Ben will have a break until the weekend classes begin in September!

[by] melissa
praise God who holds in his hand our life and all our ways