Week 32 – Testing Boundaries Wrap Up

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Site Chosen: Online

These projects exist as a browser based digital collage, and as a email art project to promote a democratic art environment for all participants, free of instructional hierarchies, creating an art environment for everyone regardless of educational background or geographical location.

Browser based works present the unique opportunity to connect with a non-localized audience, who may participate in near complete anonymity, solitude, or participate actively as an individual or as a group if they so choose. Using born digital projects allowed me to connect directly to audiences virtually without the mediation of physical institutions and the ability to move away from traditional art centers, allowing audiences outside of typical artistic city centres the same experience as those within those geographical areas.

In this project I hoped to connect the digital and the physical in some way as a means of recognizing our digital presence as real. I approached this in Asterism Exchange by including the exchange portion, and using hand drawn images as a reminder of the individual within the internet. For Hesperus is Phosphorus, I saw the email project as a means to interrupt one’s day, and traditional use for email, with a reminder about time and our bodies and heavenly bodies’ connection cycles through an image.

These ideas of connectivity, immateriality linked to materiality and democracy mediated through internet based projects mark a shift for me to begin to move away from traditional and commercial artistic institutions’ goals. The born digital projects open up endless, rhizomatic opportunities for new connections to audiences and further interpretations of the work from new demographics.

Site Chosen: Live Component

During the live participation component, any visitors to the ShiftWork Studio in Fredericton NB during Flourish Festival were invited to submit to the growing archive by drawing a star, asterism or constellation on a Postcard. This postcard was catalogued by me, the Acting Asterism Archivist, and they were given another star in return for their contribution.

Attached is photo documentation of the installation. The archive could be browsed via a laptop, activating the projection on the physical archive. The costuming for my assistant and I reflected stereotypes of traditional archivist including glasses, white gloves, name tags.

I thought the event was successful as multiple contributions were made from participants of all ages and demographics. After the event there were new hits to the website, and about 70 stars were submitted for the archive. I am in the process of editing and scheduling them now.

Process

The process for creating these new works followed by usual conventions for working at the beginning, which involved research, sketches and setting goals, but after the first few weeks and realizing my goals were different than usual (more focus on audience than purely content and physical process) the way I worked also shifted. I realized early on that I had to research how I was actually going to use the internet in a meaningful way in relation to my work thematically, and started to research other artist working with projects in similar formats. The traditional standards for most physical work is not so ingrained into born digital works, so I felt there were many angles to approach display from which needed to be considered right at the beginning of the work, rather than making the work and considering how it would be displayed.

From there I encountered technical learning curves, which included purchasing and registering domains, hosting, writing some html and injecting custom css. With all this new work I also wanted to strongly consider the accessibility of the site, and read the WCAG 2.0 to ensure my web projects, and future web projects will be as accessible as possible. I wanted the project to still be accessible to someone using a screen reader, with low vision or limited fine motor skills, meaning the site project needed a visual description (available under the visual description tab), scale for mobile, and be able to be used with keyboard shortcuts. All of these considerations have been included and will be included in all future projects as well.

Challenges/Concerns

Among the golden ideals that the internet can be a space for the democratization of art, there are still major issues related to the privatization of the internet, ethical issues surrounding the major corporation which operate the most used areas of the internet (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc) and the commodification of the internet is signalling a move away from it being a democratic space. Economic choices related to the adoption of current content management systems ad coding languages may also mean all this work will be unable to be conserved with future changes.

I also have major concerns about who can access the internet, either through access to devices which is a financial barrier, but also access to affordable bandwidth which is a major issue in rural areas, as well as how people with disabilities are able to use what I make on the internet.

Finally as with any practice, I have environmental concerns related to the ecological damage servers cause by needing more and more space and the pollution they cause through enormous and unrelenting energy needs.

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Audiences and Reception

The audience reception to the online projects has been modest, but I think this initial online work has been really valuable in forcing me to see an online project through on this platform.

Using social media and live events has resulted in the highest audiences, and are audiences which I hope to continue to grow through future projects. Partnering with other institutions in the future to leverage their preexisting online audiences as potential audiences for my work would be the next steps, and I am waiting to hear back (hopefully successfully) from opportunities and keeping aware of others that may crop up through my usual channels.

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