(Bevier J., 2008)
Beauty, the first thing that comes to my mind is our bodies. All your friends and strangers and how they look. Whether we find them beautiful and therefore most likely attractive or not. We also have a lot of body image and “beauty” in the media, however more and more of that is adjusted and idealized and made ” perfect” in a way that we no longer think of beauty as something that we can obtain. Men and women alike are experiencing whats called a normative discontent. We criticize and not find ourselves good enough and not “normal” to such an extent that it’s now normal to think that we aren’t good or beautiful enough; “feeling negatively about one’s appearance is thought to be the “norm” rather than the exception” (Barnes et al, 2011).
Studies have shown that even children aged 9 years old(20%) and up to 40% of 14 year old girls are uncomfortable with their weight most of which are within normal weight range for their age.
But beauty is not only regarding people. It can regard to anything. Media products on the tv, internet and anywhere in between, are made to look beautiful and attractive for the public to consume them. Whether that’s other tv programmes, more websites to go to, clothes to buy or animals to look at and share with your friends. The world is full of uselessly beautiful things that are made to attract us.
Visiting the Royal Academy of Arts I’ve seen the Ai Weiwei exhibition which consistent of all kinds of his works as well as commentary from the artist himself as well as his fellow artists. Ai Weiwei mentioned the phrase “aesthetically pleasing but useless” quite often through out the exhibition, starting with his “furniture” series. I found that quite fascinating because people often strive for meaning and regard aesthetically pleasing art as less of an art to some degree. Yet beauty and aesthetics are everywhere, we cannot run away from it. One other piece that really intrigued me was the room full of showcases with things such as bones, jade handcuffs and make up and cosmetic containers made of precious materials. One thing that interested me the most were two sex toys made out of jade (which in some parts of china is a material considered more valuable than gold). This basically made them useless because they were too beautiful to use. They sat in their showcase. Beautiful but useless.
Which leads me to a question. What is beauty? Whats identified as beautiful or aesthetically pleasing? Is it the same for everyone?
In the animal kingdom, symmetry is a sign of health and genetic resistance to diseases. It signals health and offspring survival. It’s the obvious choice to pick a mate thats symmetrical and therefore in that animals’ eyes, beautiful(although it is not known whether the animal sees the beauty in the symmetry). However, humans aren’t necessarily like that. Our perception of beauty is slightly different. Not to mention nature is full of asymmetry weaved into all the symmetry which we perceive as beautiful. Some studies show that even from birth we look at some features that might make us beautiful, more than the symmetry of the face. This was concluded in two ways; one showing the correlation between babies’ likeness of a face and its symmetry as well as peoples rating of peoples attractiveness based on just half their face which meant that only certain features were required.
This lead me to look at simpler examples of symmetry and beauty, both in nature, art and architecture. Personally I love taking pictures of symmetrical building or in a symmetrical way. It gives me this weird satisfaction of things being balanced and looking “perfect”. On the other hand, lack of symmetry or what some may call “perfection” is often seen in those areas without it directly translating into lack of beauty. Japanese aesthetics is an aesthetics of imperfection, insufficiency, incompleteness, asymmetry, and irregularity, not to mention perishability, suggestiveness, and simplicity(Wicks R. 2005). They include the art of wabi sabi which is the art of finding beauty in imperfection and profundity in earthiness(Lawrence R. G., 2001). I liked the idea of making beautiful things by using existing products in a similar way that wabi sabi does. Except instead of “fixing” them I wanted to experiment with destroying them and by doing so, creating a new, abstract piece that might show a different view of beauty.
I started by taking three pictures; a technology advert which portraits its product as god like, defying gravity and perfect in every way(iPhone 6s, Apple); a glamour shot from “Vanity Fair” cover of Caitlyn Jenner and my own picture of a sunset in a park in Madrid which I thought is a type of a natural beauty that fits with my idea.
i have used Georg Fischers experiments to distort the images. For these three images I used the “Triangulation” tool which converts the image into triangles.
I changed the different variables to progressively achieve more intense results over 20 or so changes. Then combined the results in Photoshop to create a gif from the least distorted to the most and the other way round, back to the original image.
I believe my project could show a different side of beauty and distort the view of people of the media they consume. It can also show that weird and distorted can also be considered beautiful.
While researching this I stumbled upon a project by Alec Radford which was a video generated by Stylize, an open source code that translates video or images into a mix of triangles of his own making. Stylize is a regressor based image stylisation which is a machine learning algorithm. This way the output is always different which I find fascinating.
I would like to learn and use his code to create a video of my own, most likely of already made commercial content to give an unfamiliar beauty to familiar object and media artefacts.
I found a project by Roger Johansson called Genetic Programming: Evolution of Mona Lisa where the coder uses a program he created to use a string of DNA for polygon rendering and then manages to “recreate” a part of the famous Leonardo DaVinci painting using only 50 polygons.
An example of how it works can be found here.
Diedrichs P., (2013) ‘Is your daughter’s perception of beauty distorted by the media?’ (Online) Available from: http://selfesteem.dove.co.uk/Articles/Written/Is_your_daughters_perception_of_beauty_distorted_by_the_media.aspx [28 June 2014]
Tantleff-Dunn S. , Barnes R. D., Larose J. G. (2011) ‘It’s Not Just a “Woman Thing:” The Current State of Normative Discontent’. Eating Disorders: The Journal of Treatment & Prevention 19., (5) Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3760219/
Serdar K. L.,(2011) ‘Female Body Image and the Mass Media: Perspectives on How Women Internalize the Ideal Beauty Standard’. Myriad(Online) Available from: http://www.westminstercollege.edu/myriad/index.cfm?parent=…&detail=4475&content=4795 [October 2011]
Zaidel D. W., Cohem J. A., (2004) ‘THE FACE, BEAUTY, AND SYMMETRY:
PERCEIVING ASYMMETRY IN BEAUTIFUL FACES’ Intern. J. Neuroscience 115, (8) Available from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download;jsessionid=A708942F8B4BBEEDA011647C4E039D55?doi=10.1.1.514.2818&rep=rep1&type=pdf
Zaidel D. W., Hessamian M.,(2010) ‘Asymmetry and Symmetry in the Beauty of Human Faces’. Symmetry 2 Avaliable from: http://dwz.psych.ucla.edu/ZaidelHessamianSymmetryJournal.pdf
Beck A. J. (2013) (Online) Available from: http://alexjohnbeck.com/project/bothsidesof_versions/ (online, 2013)
Wicks R. (2005) ‘The idealization of contingency in traditional Japanese aesthetics’. Journal of Aesthetic Education 39., (3)
Lawrence R. G., (2001) ‘Wabi-Sabi: The Art Of Imperfection’ Natural Home
September-October 2001 Avaliable from: http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/wabi-sabi.aspx
To look at:
Image one: Register.
It’s a mechanism that makes us into the subjects and lets the teacher keep track of us to make sure we’re in class, doing the work. The discourse is that they have the control. The institution of the university defines us based on our blog posts. We also make these blog posts to be a certain type of student. To be deemed as a “good student.” (A discourse)
Image two: ID cards only
This regulates access to knowledge. It is saying only students or staff (members of the institution) can get in. This shows the power of the institution. This also helps them keep track of the people scanning their cards due to the trackers inside. We’re also not told to scan our cards we just go with what is ‘the norm.’ In agreement with Foucault the fact people will hold the door open without others having to scan their card (as is often the case) suggests that power relations are not achieving the goal of total domination.
Image three: Leaflet givers
The people giving the leaflets out are judging the people passing and selecting them specifically based on their appearance, which reinforces Stuart Hall’s point that “Who says what, to whom, when, how, why, and to what affect” is not neutral or random. This also shows the interdependent quality of discourse because the person chosen to be given a leaflet has to then decide whether to accept it. (accept the discourse)
Image four: University buildings
The university itself is a discourse of institutionalisation as you behave a certain way on the campus due to predetermined rules set by society. The surveillance the university has makes the students stick to the rules and they agree to these due to social conventions. Students accept they are lower then lecturers or office workers around the campus, we give them power over us by our own choice because of our need for knowledge and the traditions of discourse. The university mirrors a panopticon because everyone is constantly observing everyone else, and students are conscious of not only how they look but their grades and what other students grades are, theres a need to compete and by achieving a good grade, they go up in a hierarchy and are seen as more respectable.
Image five: The bar
Even though this bar is part of the campus, and students use it all the time, it is a different discourse and environment to the university. You go there with a social discourse rather then a professional or educational one. Students and lecturers both use the space and the dynamics of their relationship changes. There is no longer a hierarchy, which contrasts Marx and Altusser’s ideas of power being one way and simplistic.
In terms of staff and customers, you, the customer are giving money to the institution yet they still have the control to provide you with the product, which mirrors the student-university relationship.
Image six: Volunteering leaflet.
People approach you with volunteering opportunities, and ask “Do you want to?..” which makes you look at yourself. This surveillance was experimented with in our workshop , so our experience of being approached with these questions, shows it’s real life application. You are made into a subject, questioning if you are a good person.
Image seven: Mobile phones
When checking social medias, we are looking and surveying other people and their lives, but this is also us surveying ourselves. The interdependent power relation is also evident in social media such as Facebook as they keep track of our online presence by stating what time we were last logged in. People censor what they post and say on social media so we never know if they are authentic or not. They produce a desired reality of themselves and how they wish to be viewed. The spectacle of Facebook causes judgemental reactions and is a mechanism that turns its users into subjects that are constantly looking at themselves and what other people think of them. We also take selfies on our mobile phones and try to display the best version of ourself using lighting, angles, and filters but this questions the authenticity of the image. Make-up is also used as a metaphor to appear beautiful but this is made up and questions the reality of the situation. Due to the fact that we are aware that posts on Facebook and selfies are manipulated, we know the truth of the discourse.
She held his hand, as if letting go was the end of the journey. In a way she way right. He had no control, everything was wrong, whatever could have gone awry, did, and yet here he is. Happy, at the right station. He couldn’t let her love stop him from experiencing it.
What now? – he screams in his head.
He’s at a new chapter. Clean slate. Blank canvas. Where to go from now? So much is new yet nothing had changed. He fell in love with him and there was nothing he could do about it.
I decided to write a 100 word fast fiction based on the memory/a life event of my good friend. After reading some fast fiction I noticed that most of them are shock based. Creepy, deadly, full of horror with a big twist at the end. I wanted to do something slightly different. I could have easily change the last sentence to something more sinister. Such as a suicide. The story leads up to it. It could easily fit into the genre of fast fiction but I wanted to keep it away from that. I wanted it to keep more to the truth and yet still be quite devastating; on a different level.
David Gaffney is a short story writer and after following his tips I managed to write a story that i’m happy with. I thought of using just one character however I believe mentioning the other character at the beginning might make the audience think about a broader story. About the consequences of every person involved and how it all may affect them.
Channel 4 News story on the Refugee’s flooding into Croatia.
The Guardian: Britain’s response to the refugee crisis in numbers.
The Guardian: Refugee’s in Hungary.
Amateur footage of the war in Syria.
The refugees have become the spectacle around the world, the name Refugee is used to distract from the cause. Refugee’s are made separate from the situation in their own country. They never concentrate on the problem itself, just how we are affected by it. These videos show the ‘crisis,’ but only the version that affects the European nations, the last video is footage of the actual war in Syria, footage I have not before seen in a news report on the crisis.