Javascript Sketches: SHARK VARIATIONS

 

Screenshot 2017-09-22 13.00.43

I used the following code to generate this image in Processing

void setup(){
background(255);
size(650,650);
//this code describes a plain white backdrop
noLoop();
}
float resolution = 640;

void draw(){

for (int i =10 ; i < 650 ; i = i + 80){
for (int j = 10 ; j < 650 ; j = j + 80){

//this refers to the rate at which the triangles are repeated:
//every 80 pixels horizontally or vertically a new loop begins

//triangle set 1:

//this creates a set of eight congruent triangles which tessellate across the grid
drawTriangle (i-20,j-10,i+20,j+10,i-20,j+30);
drawTriangle (i+20,j+10,i-20,j+30,i+20,j+50);
drawTriangle (i+20,j-30,i+60,j-10,i+20,j+10);
drawTriangle (i+20,j+10,i+60,j+30,i+20,j+50);

drawTriangle (i+20,j-30,i-20,j-10,i+20,j+10);
drawTriangle (i+60,j+30,i+20,j+50,i+60,j+70);
drawTriangle (i+60,j-10,i+20,j+10,i+60,j+30);
drawTriangle (i-20,j+30,i+20,j+50,i-20,j+70);

//triangle set 2

//this creates a smaller set of triangles, which sit just a few pixels inside the first set.
drawTriangle (i-16,j-2,i+12,j+10,i-16,j+22);
drawTriangle (i+16,j+18,i-12,j+30,i+16,j+42);
drawTriangle (i+24,j-22,i+52,j-10,i+24,j+2);
drawTriangle (i+24,j+18,i+52,j+30,i+24,j+42);

drawTriangle (i+16,j-22,i-12,j-10,i+16,j+2);
drawTriangle (i+54,j+38,i+28,j+50,i+54,j+62);
drawTriangle (i+56,j-2,i+28,j+10,i+56,j+22);
drawTriangle (i-16,j+38,i+12,j+50,i-16,j+62);

stroke (1);

}}

drawLines();
}

void drawTriangle (int a, int b, int p, int q, int x, int y) {

//this code allows us to create conditions for the triangles based on the relative values of //the vertices as represented by set pronumeral digits (a,b,p,q,x,y)

if (a%4 == 0) {
//so as the horizontal value of the first vertex is divisible by 4
//we can apply a certain condition- so a set number of triangles are a shade of grey //(representing the shark’s fin)
fill(noise(x / resolution, y / resolution) * 255)
;
} else {
fill(noise(a / resolution, b / resolution) * 255,
noise(p / resolution / 64, q/ resolution / 12) * 255,
noise(a / resolution / 120, x / resolution / 12) * 255);
//for every other triangle in the loop will be coloured a random shade varying
//according to the positions of the vertices, using perlin noise for a
//more subtle gradient

//various experimentations with this give a range of aqua-blue, flesh-tones or deep red (see below)
}
triangle (a,b,p,q,x,y);
//this applies the conditions as set throughout the function
}
void drawLines(){
for (int i =10 ; i < 650 ; i = i +80 ){
for (int j = 10 ; j < 650 ; j = j + 80){
//this refers to the rate at which the patterns are repeated:
//every 80 pixels horizontally or vertically a new loop begins

//lines set 1

//these lines are specially placed to go between the vertex of the interior triangles and a //certain point on the exterior triangles just a few pixels away.  It’s a repeated patter for //every triangle in order to complete the illusion.

//I’m looking for a way to code in a formula or set of conditions for the lines so they don’t //need to be plotted individually

line (i-16,j-2,i-20,j-4);
line (i-20,j-4,i-24,j-2);
line(i-26, j-12,i-26,j-20);
line(i-26,j-12,i-30,j-9);
line (i+16,j+18,i+20,j+15);
line (i+24,j-22,i+20,j-24);
line (i-16,j+38,i-20,j+35);
line(i-20,j+35,i-26,j+38);
line (i+16,j-23,i+20,j-25);
line (i+20,j-25,i+24,j-23);
line (i+54,j+38,i+54,j+43);
line (i+56,j-2,i+60,j-5);
line (i-16,j+38,i-20,j+35);
line (i-16,j+22,i-16,j+17);
line (i-12,j+30,i-16,j+27);
line(i-16,j+27,i-16,j+22);
line (i-24,j+22,i-24,j+27);
line (i-24,j+27,i-28,j+30);

line (i-12,j-10,i-16,j-13);
line (i-16,j-13,i-16,j-17);
line (i+12,j+10,i+16,j+7);
line(i+16,j+7,i+16,j+3);
line(i+24,j+7,i+24,j+3);
line(i+24,j+7,i+28,j+10);
line(i+24,j+18,i+20,j+14);
line(i+24,j+48,i+24,j+40);
line(i+16,j+48,i+16,j+40);
line(i+16,j+48,i+12,j+50);
}}}

THIS YEAR

 “Art is a conversation between those who are dead and those who are not yet born.  We are merely translators.”

Victor Sancz, The 5th Wall

The concept for this work stems from this tenet of artmaking, central to my philosophy for creative practice. As a theatre maker, I am tasked with bringing the words to life from pages sometimes millennia old. These are the “voices of the dead”…  Such a notion is inherently supernatural, like how Stephen King defines writing as “telepathy” in his autobiography On Writing, and I wanted to explore this as a horror theme.

This exploration resulted in an aesthetic influenced by Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker – creating tension in ordinary objects through his unique cinematography. I experimented with the camera to push the aperture as far as I could to create that otherwordly light.  All the effects are in-camera (besides the titles), the washed out effect a result of video gain.

Following the thread of the horror aesthetic lead to other central conceptual elements. Alluding to the Blair Witch Project and Halloween, upon finding the location I was inspired to bring the forest and the mask into play together. The mask, besides offering a macabre and uncanny presence in the natural environment, representing the ‘voices of the dead’ or the entire history of theatre to which I owe my creative spirit.

Finally the concept of the ‘movie trailer’ as creative form made sense to imply a much deeper presence. It also gave rise to include the absurd voice-over and over the top non-diagetic soundtrack effects, to disrupt the audience’s passive viewing state. They are a central character in the video, it challenges them to participate in its message.

 

a critical framework for creative practice

The following are a collection of responses I just submitted for an assignment.  They cover cultural appropriation, colonisation/decolonisation, and in my own practice the deep-seeded politicisation of self-expression.  The task was limited to 1000 words, so i didn’t get into it as deep as I’d like…  but it’s a start…

1.

Cultural Appropriation: by which diverse systems of expression merge into a unique cultural form, is a practice fraught with controversy. Artists are subject to a vast fabric of influences, particularly with the advent of technology it is disproportionately easy to investigate and adopt the cultural signifiers of groups to which we do not belong.

The main tension inherent to cultural appropriation is to do with the relationship between the cultures as they engage in the present. Indications to how this plays out are found in historical phenomena like colonialism or civil rights movements, particularly the power relationships across these events.

For example, remote Aboriginal Australian groups adopting the language and symbology of heavy metal music (Mansfield, 239) occurs within the historical context of European colonisation. It is reasonable that a community having suffered systemic violent oppression over hundreds of years would identify with music notable for its anti-authoritarian roots. As such they can take what they please from the iconography of heavy metal to reclaim their sense of cultural identity in what might be referred to as ‘decolonisation’.

Further, heavy metal music, largely performed by artists of European ethnicity today, has its lineage in rock and roll pioneered by artists such as Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix in the context of their own civil rights movement. Black Australians choosing to re-appropriate Western music to inform their own resistance to colonisation is entirely fitting.

Conversely if white community groups took aspects of Aboriginal culture to enhance their own this would continue the systemic violence of European settlement – simply one more thing for white people to take without asking.

2.

At the centre of public discourse in Australia is the dispossession of Aboriginal land. Like Macbeth denying the bloated visage of Duncan’s corpse at the banquet, mainstream political power centres on the continued erasure of violence against Aboriginal people through colonisation.

The White Australia Policy is one of many acts of systemic violence with an undercurrent of white supremacy behind it. Ten years ago, the Federal Government sent soldiers into Aboriginal communities to stage what they termed as an ‘intervention’. A year after that, during the Prime Minister’s apology to the Stolen Generation, six opposition MPs walked out of Parliament.

One of those members, Peter Dutton is now responsible for implementing offshore detention policies. He routinely misrepresents behaviour of the people for whom he has duty of care, most recently citing sexual violence on Manus Island as rationale for police shooting.

This pattern of denial and distortion around marginalised groups by those in power demonstrates what Omar Musa refers to in his Music Show interview (2016); quoting Richard Flanagan he says: “the history of all great art is a history of the fringes waging a war upon the centre“.  At the centre we have a political structure reliant on the economic privilege of colonisation, with marginalised groups struggling to challenge this narrative and assert their place in Australian culture.

‘Great Art’ is the primary tool to do this. It is worth noting that many of these migrant groups, while not directly suffering the violence of colonisation in Australia have had to flee one form of colonisation or another to come here. Colonialism is at the centre of political power in Australia, globally and on a local level: the fulcrum on which the wheel of cultural expression spins.

3.

Artmaking is therefore positioned along a spectrum ranging from complacency at the centre to radicalism at the very edge. The complacent artist, satisfied with their social milieu can participate without controversy in cultural practices. The radical artist rejects convention and agitates for change. It is possible to traverse between these two positions, using a popular format for art to promote a radical agenda, many artists at the height of their popularity have used it to agitate for social change. Other artists have instigated social change purely by challenging formal convention. The works operate on an aesthetic level which inherently challenges the status quo.

It is not simply being ‘fringe’ or ‘mainstream’, but knowing where the work will find its audience. The advent of ‘Realism’ in theatre in the late 19th Century caused pandemonium amongst audiences in Norway. The uproar stems from the context of his performances, staged at a National Theatre Company to bourgeois elites – the complacent centre of social power – little wonder they became unsettled by what they saw.

But Ibsen knew the significance of what he was doing, even if he could not predict this form would dominate public entertainment in decades to come. In this way, whatever the context, the choice to make art is a political choice. Even the choice not to make art is political. This is what the critic Tim Adams is getting at when he asks the artist. “In our digital age did she feel that any solid act of making becomes a political act?” (2016)

4.

This act of artmaking, this choice to self-express becomes even more politically charged when we understand that there are people – even within the supposedly ‘free’ society of Australia – who cannot do the same.

Artists are frequently excluded from public discourse, where they do participate their inclusion is token. For example, to succeed as an actor, the artist must participate fully in the theatre of capitalism. Exceptions to this rule are rare, even the most visible success stories of Australian cinema still advertise anti-aging cream. For those starting out – to refuse a commercial for chocolate bars is to kiss your career goodbye. No one will represent the talented conscientious objector – even though these institutions benefit fully from the political structures of colonisation.

The actor must therefore choose: accept the status quo and participate, or reject it and by doing so forego opportunities to which they aspire. Historically, this is a fundamental to how power systems contrive to co-opt the arts to reduce its influence. Those who resist are often the artists who become the most iconic. Vaclav Havel, the playwright in Communist Czechoslovakia was frequently imprisoned but went on to become President.

The list is extensive: Shostakovich, Kandinsky & Vertov are just a few innovators working within extreme limitations of free speech in the Soviet Union. The reality of dissidence for these artists was no joke; prison or death was a probable outcome living under a totalitarian state, and yet the importance of using their art as a form of resistance was overwhelming.

As Doug Aitken says in his interview: “It’s not a political strategy. It’s an extension of who you are and how you see the world. It’s always non-negotiable” (Adams, 2016).

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Mansfield, J. (2014), ‘Listening to Heavy Metal in Wadeye’, in A Harris (ed.) Circulating cultures: exchanges of Australian Indigenous music, dance and media, ANU Press, pp. 239-258.

Omar & L-Fresh 2016, Radio Interview, The Music Show, Australian Broadcasting Corporation <http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/musicshow/omar-and-l-fresh/7988076&gt;

Adams, T 2016, ‘Power To… The Art of Protest’, The Guardian <https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/sep/11/protest-art-miro-elmgreen-dragset-isaac-julien-sarah-sze-doug-aitken-interview&gt;

 

ICONS & INFLUENCES

For the current video project will explore the influence of the following  two film works on my aesthetic and philosophical outlook as an artist:

Chris Marker: SANS SOLEIL

Specifically the use of voice and sound over seemingly randomised ‘home movie’ style and found footage – the juxtaposition of visual and verbal imagery generating harmony and dissonance with an expansive meaning. Picking up from Marker’s construction of the narration in the form of a letter/postcard from abroad, I will compose the poem in a similar way – perhaps as a letter to myself in the future?

Andrei Tarkovsky: STALKER

The key imagery within this mercurial film is of the natural world reclaiming the decaying remains of civilisation. The eponymous Stalker and his companions face an arduous and convoluted path, beset by mysterious barriers.  This concept of a path into the unknown is a central tenet of this project as a metaphor for my life and creative output.

As such I aim to emulate both of these works as an expression of my own journey into maturation as an artist.

What We Talk About When We Talk About Art

a deeper, more inclusive public conversation

For too long, public discussion around the arts has been limited to the superficial, publicity-oriented back-pages of newspapers, or ‘human-interest stories’ at the end of a news program. While few people will deny the transformative power of what artists can do – we often talk about the work in ways which reduce the potential for audiences to access it.

New Audiences is devoted to expanding this conversation – by breaking down the walls between the artist and the people whose lives they can enrich. This philosophy infuses every project undertaken – to build your audience, and empower them to talk about your work in a meaningful way.

I envision a world where the arts scene demands constant coverage on our nightly news – not as an afterthought, or niche event – but every night and every day – the vision is that our creative sector has such a profile that it’s just as much a part of the public conversation in the way that we cover current affairs, or even sport.

To do this we must develop more inclusive and empowering ways to talk about our work at a grassroots level. To build your audience, we can work together and build a broader audience for everyone.

New Audiences is not about publicity and generating short-term ticket sales- it’s about a long-term, vision based approach to creating a wider, deeper conversation about the arts, changing the world, one audience member at a time.