I’ve been exploring different ways to bridge my screen-practices into more physical mediums. Using 3D renderings i’ve modelled as references for future drawings has been a captivating journey so far. Im starting to think about material-synthesis through mark making, and using simulations of that material (virtually) as references. My drawings seem to make use of light and dark, and slowly, material is making its way In there now - a way of enhancing depth? creating a contrast between elements? providing the viewer with more context around an object, and potentially its previous journey(s)?
I have most recently decided to take a few extra steps forward with tattooing. For the past year, I had been looking for apprenticeship opportunities all over the city - but none of them seemed to fall through. So I decided to teach myself. I purchased a rotary machine two months ago, and decided to tattoo myself to get a hang of things. After a really strange experience tattooing my own knee, I decided to give it a go on someone else. I had done a variety of research around maintaining a proper hygienic standard with the tools and space - I was ready. My drawings seemed to grab the attention of a few friends, and with that came an evolution of my own style - a more refined one, a visual language that works better in the form of a tattoo. I opened up an Instagram account, and started to exhibit my drawings and tattoos.
It seems as though my work, as fragmented as it is in medium, chronology, and context, seems to always want to tell a story. As if each piece somehow pinpoints a moment in time in this little reality. The sphere as a placeholder? A reminder that we are back in that reality?
With time, finding ways to remind myself of how to acquire tranquility within a traumatized mind has become a passionate pursue of mine. The tattoos on my own body have symbolized those reminders, images that eventually translate into states - building somewhat of a relationship with these images on my body can be described as therapeutic.
The sphere is that reminder in my works - a reminder to enter a mindset, a journey in an attempt to grasp the nature of Empathy.
Can that process of migration into that realm, to recognize a symbol and allow it to guide you through an inconsistent narrative, be in itself a practice of Empathy?
“How do you envisage developing this narrative of reflection, what form might it take, what might it sweep with it? … The sphere is a place holder...” - Alexis
“ I felt that the chain of events in your narrative was somehow predictable and relatively logical. I would have liked to be more challenged as a viewer by your acknowledgement of the existence of a broad range of contradictory contextual perspectives.” - Pav
“I'd love to hear more about your train of thoughts behind of this sequence and how you put it together.” - Aristotle
“In some ways I feel a sense of separateness yet togetherness – loss yet comfort and sometimes anxiety yet a feeling of calm.” - Michelle
“When I first watched it, I struggled to understand what it is about, on the second watch I got much more from it. Are these meant to be separate works?” - Kelda
“Also like a dream I am struggling to remember specific parts of it” - Arthur
“Because I find how to know yourself is a crucial subject matter in your works, and a social account sometimes is way that people defines themselves nowadays. 'Mental landscape’, which refers to landscape as idea and concept, may also give you some inspiration.”- AxAsh
“I just always have to think of William Kentridge when I see your work.” - Friederike
“A snippet i remember from the 360 workshop is that when we are viewing 360video we are essentially trapped in a sphere. Im really curious to see how the format of the work unfolds moving forward towards presentation/exhibition.” - Matt
“have seen your individual works in blog before. I thought it’s cool but didn’t understand the meaning behind it. It’s very surprised that you put them together and it works. This narrative seems new and interesting but I think the visual parts are a little bit mess. The black and white part and 3D animations doesn’t seems match very well.” - Taiyo
I’ve been struggling to write these days. I’ve been in a state of making - reflecting ideas outwards and executing them immediately. I’ve acquired some sort of pace, a routine of some sort. It seems as though this method has prioritized my making process, but has put the reflection process on pause. I’ve decided to make an effort to start writing more frequently - no matter how informal/disorganized it may be. I should start seeing the blog as having the ability to act as a time capsule - revisiting ideas, my own history, opinion, research, work.
I recorded a two-track EP with my band Laura K Prophet.
I have never been able to dive this deeply into music before, to be able to learn the intricate engineering behind it all. We spent two days at Monarch Studios - the first day was dedicated to making sure all the instruments are recorded properly (bed tracks)- with their sounds perfected either through re-amping or other analogue techniques. The next day was dedicated to vocals and other textures. I spent the entire morning laying out vocals and layers, experimenting with different microphones (The C12 Vintage was my favourite) and the possibilities of vocal layering and delay. I was able to witness the way space is engineered through analogue methods. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by individuals who managed to work with my visual-thinking. I was able to communicate my suggestions through images, and the engineer was able to understand and further translate that idea into sound.
This render was inspired by a conversation I had with the engineer about how I wanted my vocals to sound in relationship to the synthesizer near the end of one of our tracks. I was trying to describe the vocals falling in slow motion from above - plush but elastic, adaptable and moldable, but always managing to retain itself. The Synthesizer a fast growing tree, sharper branches, echoic, reflective. I wanted them to collide, but not destroy one another - somewhat of a balanced coexistence of sharp and smooth.
I’ve been tattooing more frequently.
I’ve grown accustomed to the tattoo machine, its vibrations, voltage settings, needle size, ink densities, skin varieties. I’ve been noticing a sizeable amount of improvement after every tattoo - this is building my confidence with the tool, making me eager to experiment and further my learnings within this practice.
It seems as though this program (MFA) has facilitated the ways in which other endeavours of art-making are interconnected. I’ve come to develop a clearer visual language, furthering my understanding of the screen and its capabilities. Tattooing is elaborating the two-dimensional, the plane. Music is contributing largely to my conceptual framework of space, and my digital fine art is becoming a language in which I communicate these ideas. In connecting these ideas, translating, bridging. In doing so I have come closer to an awareness of what a “digital artist” (for the lack of a better term) is suggestive of.
Discovering the framework of Empathy has been a starting point that I’ve managed to remain consistent with. So far I’ve come to a moment of reflection, in which I need to contemplate the following ideas:
Can Empathy be achieved as a consistent state of being or a state that fluctuates based on exposures to instinct and survival mechanisms? Or neither?
How do/ do Empathy and the Sphere (further research/exploration needed) connect?
Can material (texture), represented in digital form (renderings), achieve an added awareness to space and environment to the visual language of the screen?
Can expanding quality and scale of renderings, projecting them in large spaces, immerse the viewer into its world more effectively?
What would 3D renderings feel like as large-scale prints exhibited in vast empty spaces with sculptural objects (connecting to elements within the render) surrounding the area?
What does it mean to be an artist? To me?
The canvas was always black.
You know when your mom tells you to close your eyes and imagine something,
like a peaceful dream, most lifelike with water, a boat-
A reflection, the sky, space,
States, shapes, desires.
Thoughts that stick,
or that erode what already existed.
That the world is only larger with bridges and bonds,
Sharing the tools we use.
The ways we choose.
That fear is like an old friend.
A simulation of Then.
I assume the role of-
I’m not sure.
Who are you?
If not an absolute
Then a collection of a few?
Do you see?
What do you make of me?
But we can’t fully understand.
Therefore we can’t define.
What float and hovers
Invisible, yet always divine.
“We comfort ourselves by reliving memories of protection. Something closed must retain our memories, while leaving them their original value as images. Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home and, by recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams; we are never real historians, but always near poets, and our emotion is perhaps nothing but an expression of a poetry that was lost.” ― Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space
But nobody told you
What nobody told you
I’ve decided to open up a separate section on my page for my sketchbook (digital drawings). Drawing is a form of brainstorming for me - especially in this form/style/language. It’s a vulnerability, a skeleton, a foundation of a future idea - or perhaps, quite often, a translation of thought that may just exist as is.
Words to ponder on:
Mark-making, translation, tool.
Kitsilano, 7 a.m. February 13th, filmed with my mobile device.
Sensationalizes the psychosomatic
Visualizations of mind-body interaction and neurogenesis
Tranquil states - still life - freezes movement.
Tackles subjects such as melancholy, desire, fear and isolation.
Soft aesthetics and choice of perspective generates an intimate proximity.
The visual language carries the subject as neither a protagonist nor antagonist. Rather, the subject seems to exist beyond the scope of narrative - a cognitive portrait perhaps?
Reconnecting to the sphere through prayer
Spiders are genetically programmed to generate a symmetric algorithm of web - a map they are born with. I adopted the term ‘spider’ around two years ago - my brother and I were both attempting to reconcile with a loss of a loved one, an internal conflict of morale, an existential crisis that left us both in an agoraphobic state; unable to trust the innenwelt, unable to trust the umwelt. My brother and I have had a long history of trauma, symptoms of emotional flashbacks seemed to take a toll on the ways in which we processed novel traumas, unable to disconnect the web of our present from that of our past. It’s like watching a jump scare scene from a horror film on repeat, panicking, trying to find the remote to shut off the screen - but you realize you’re tied to your chair, unable to leave or move until the film decides to end at its own accord. We talked about this process, the inability to ‘control’ - how it frustrated it us, if we could find a way around it. That part we weren’t able to control was eventually named ‘The Spider’. A part of our mind that breathes for us, knows what to do when we sleep, knows what dreams to engage us in, to spark our interest. Albeit, as separate as it may seem, The Spider is still part of us. A mixture of the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS), the Subconscious and unconscious. The Spider takes care of everything that is not in our immediate attention, even thoughts we shove aside as we try to just engage in the everyday. As much as we’d like to believe that the spider and its daily ‘tasks’ are inaccessible, they aren’t. There exists a consciousness beyond the conscious, most commonly referred to as the meta-conscious - a level of thought that can contemplate the state of being conscious. As practice, my brother and I attempted to engage with that state of meta-consciousness, observing The Spider and its decisions - eventually redirecting it in healthier ways. Meta-consciousness is like a lens, a camera - a wide focused view on the body, mind, environment, and space. To be meta-conscious is to become a flaneur on the streets of your mind, watching thoughts swoosh by - traffic can be exhausting sometimes. A form of astral projection happening within the innenwelt, a meta-projection (so many metas, I know). A flaneur on busy city streets gazes at shadow, symmetry, and composition, contemplating the connections, the histories and reasonings, fragments of a greater puzzle. A meta-projection is just that, except instead of a city, it’s you. I’d like to take a closer look at The Spider, from a meta-conscious level, contemplating its activity.
Evaluating elements (symbols-signs-significations-language) in a virtual portrait of The Spider - through a meta-consciousness lens.
In Judith Butler’s essay, “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory”, Gender is described as an “’act’, broadly construed, which constructs the social fiction of its own psychological identity” (528); By using the performative elements of an actor in a theatre as a model of interpreting gender, Butler illustrates genderas what is ‘put on’ in the spectacle of one’s life, both, physically and psychologically. The body, consequently, becomes an actor playing the role, with a script “conditioned and circumscribed by historical convention” (521); depending on one’s sex, society asserts specific modes of ‘acting’, which have been passed down historically from generation to generation.
Butler states that “the various acts of gender creates the idea of gender […] a construction that regularly conceals its genesis” (522); In this cycle of creation, genderexpresses notions of repetition and rehearsal, which seems to closely relate to Louis Althusser’s conception of ‘interpellation’. We are ‘interpellated’ into gender, “embodying certain cultural and historical possibilities” (521) that appear ubiquitous in our surrounding world; we mimic what we see, and somehow, we validate our gender roles through it. Retrospectively, our bodies experience “a complicated process of appropriation” (521), an assimilation of ‘acts’ bestowed upon us, subconsciously, by the societies and cultures that we have been raised into. Sex and gender happen to be very dissimilar, “gender is the cultural significance that the sexed body assumes” (524); in this distinction, sex is closely related to the physiological and biological materiality of the body, whereas, gender can be understood through a psychological lens, an embodiment of social construct, an ‘interpellation’. “The gender reality is created through sustained social performances means that the very notions of an essential sex, a true or abiding masculinity or femininity, are also constituted as part of the strategy by which the performative aspect of gender is concealed” (528), writes Butler; sex and gender become closely related in an attempt to amalgamate the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ to their respective bodies, a “social policy of gender regulation and control” (528).
“The association of natural sex with a discrete gender […] is an unnatural conjunction of cultural constructs in the service of reproductive interests” (524); it seems evident that gender has become most ‘necessary’ within the realm of kinship and consumerism. Gender is, therefore, a mode of production, a façade, a reproduction of exterior ideology, an unnatural garment of survival within society.
Althusser, Louis. “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, “A Critical and Cultural Reader. Eds. Anthony Easthope and Kate McGowan. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1988. 50-57.
Butler, Judith. “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory”, in Theatre Journal, Volume 40 Issue 4, Dec. 1988. 519-53.
I am currently experimenting with two types of equational functions.
Z Radial - Applied to sphere
Y Radial - Applied to plane
I’m curious as to how these functions would apply to less symmetrical/basic shapes, such as more intricate poly-formations. Would the asymmetrical shape be able to sustain a fluid animation? Would it break apart? What kind of interesting anomalies would generate?
“The great controversy in aesthetics hovers over the question whether art and the attitude appropriate to it are separated from other human interests and activities or intimately bound up with them. The empathy-theory appears to have been a reaction against sundering art from life, but a reaction which turned into affirmation and exaggeration of that divorce. This reversal was fated in the initial acceptance of pure abstract form as the essence of art and beauty, in the tradition of Kant. Committed to cold form, the antithesis of life, empathy was to show how form could become the focus of such a lively interest as the fervor of romantic genius. The theory was an attempt to explain how mere form could be expressive. The idea was that form is receptive to activity projected by a subject. But since form for empathy was not a physical, biological, or social object, only a ghostly shape, it could receive only an ectoplasmic emanation from an actual self. Abstract form needed to be animated if it was to be the center of the interest which art seems to have. But the economic man was a human being compared to the thin aesthetic man supposed by the theory of empathy to enter into form. He was deprived of social ties, unsexed, and left with vestiges of senses. This shadow of a self should be satisfied with insertion into empty forms and the excitement of finding sheer unity and variety there.
But Lipps could not let him be content with exploration of geometrical arrangement, since he was invented to illustrate a coincidence of the human with the non-human. He could not remain a wraith. The aesthetic subject had to be lively enough to greet a semblance of humanity in the object. Empathy explained enjoyment of form as pleasure in human qualities, though found outside the shape of man. Man's own shape was said not to be beautiful as a shape, for its geometric regularity would be no more pleasing than if found in an ink spot. On the contrary, "his forms are beautiful because they are human, and bearers for us of human life." Symmetry in the body was beautiful for Lipps simply because of its significance for turning right and left and all the functioning of a human being. In this view the outer beauty of a man was a manifestation of the man within, who was for the observer both a double and modification of himself.” (Meter Ames 490)
Jonathan Kearney - January 14th - 10:15am - Skype
Jonathan and I discussed how my scope and direction has narrowed down - A strong focus on ‘empathy’ as a concept. Reoccurring symbols, such as spheres and hands, appear to have become a language - a methodology in comprehending further discoveries about empathy. We further examined the role of family/culture and familiarity in my creative process, and future documentations i’d like to capture in Beirut over the summer - intergenerational, trilingual, history, home. It seems as though most recent works have become a reflection of ‘empathy’, an attempt to grasp the concept as a whole as a still life (through 3D renderings). I see this process becoming part of a larger ‘circulatory’ narrative - displayed on screen. Various mediums, contexts, languages - all attempting to define/imagine/distribute empathy.
We discussed the blog as a platform, a mirror - meant as a time capsule, to re-examine the evolution of my creative endeavours and processes. I struggled with the language, but Jonathan encouraged the fragmentation of language, as long as it could be accurately re-examined and comprehended in the future.
My next steps are to document and upload the works I’ve generated over the break, examine the relationships between them, and carry forward with a more evolved visual language - even using different mediums such as film, paint, photography, glass/chrome?
To critically ponder on mythologies based in linguistic and cultural systems.
How does one choose to represent their own reality/identity?
To investigate the internal dynamics of Family and Familiarity.
To critically examine, through semiotics, philosophies built around faith(s).
To get a better understanding of the collective self.
To widen an understanding of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) through a series of interdisciplinary lenses, exploring concept(s) such as:
To capture a string of thought during the creative process, further translating it as vividly as possible – using, Sound, Image, The Body and Texture as starting points.
To hypothesize digital software and hardware technologies as tools, much like a camera to a photographer, or a brush to a painter.
To look deeper into the Virtual Portrait.
The study of the relationship between behavior, emotion, and cognition on the one hand, and brain function on the other.
The science of phenomena as distinct from that of the nature of being. An approach that concentrates on the study of consciousness and the objects of direct experience
The theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.
A study of the structure or internal workings of something.
“There is not a single definition of empathy. The explanandum being heterogeneous, we cannot expect to discover a common mechanism explaining it. What is meant by empathy depends on the basic scientific/clinical/philosophical question. Within the neurosciences, empathy is shifting from a simple automatic bottom- up process to a more complex phenomenon in which different mechanisms (either bottom-up and top-down processing) are involved”. (Massimiliano 11)
Aragona, Massimiliano. “The Many Faces of Empathy, between Phenomenology and Neuroscience.” Academia.edu - Share Research, 2013, www.academia.edu/5590572/The_many_faces_of_empathy_between_phenomenology_and_neuroscience.
I’ve been contemplating the presence of music in our lives - what does “music” even mean? I sat down with my band members, and we decided to have an open conversation about the way that we perceive music. For some reason, the conversation started off with how each of us came to understand the impact of music, and the ways in which it has informed the way we perceive it now. I was taught how to play the piano in a conservatory, my hands would get slapped every time i got a note wrong - I was taught to read notes like a robot, and if I ever glitched-out, I would get slightly punished for it. I decided to end my time learning there, it felt like the opposite of what music meant for me. During the Lebanese war in 2006 was when i first came to understand the impact of the piano. Bombs would fall from fighter planes almost algorithmically, the echos were bone-jolting. I sat on the piano one afternoon, and played to the sound of the harsh echos. As i played, I started to understand the algorithm of the bombings, the strategy of the combat, which calmed me down - I was able to discover how manufacturing sound helped me re-examine a situation and perceive it a little differently, a little lighter. I also came to understand my voice during the war. I would sing as I played the piano, and adding that layer of sound seemed to strengthen my re-examining of the situation, it helped me come into terms with what was actually going on, it helped me discover an empathic connection to the chaotic outside.
We discussed the impact of music, how it brings people closer together, builds a community. But we went even deeper, discovering that music can have the power to manufacture a shift of perception - to be able to step out of our mental space and rediscover another one, a new one - empathy? This got me thinking about Art, and how this concept is also apparent in the gallery space. But why is music something separate to this? Isn’t it the same? Why don’t we see music more often in the gallery space?
A musician is like a chemist - manufacturing a track is like manufacturing a drug. The only difference is that one works with sound, the other works with substance. Is sound a substance?
I’ve come to appreciate my identity as an audio-visual artist, the importance of visualization. Sound inspires image, image inspires sound - it’s the way my mind functions. It seems as though i’ve been steering away from combining the two - keeping them in a separate space so that they can be understood on different levels. But why should I do that? Why not allow myself the opportunity to expose that visualization - that all-encompassing combination of sound and image.
‘Believe in existence spent
To separate us from them
To know that your blood runs thin
Is to live with the truth within’