Mez Breeze’s Code Poetry “mezangelle”

The artwork “mezangelle” isn’t an artwork so much as it is a digital language created through the Internet. The language was created by Mez Breeze and used originally in early chat rooms. Mez would take the responses to messages and mix them up. Even the word “mezangelle” has been broken up and is sometimes written as m[ez]ang.elle. In this writing, the word can have multiple means based on how the reader chooses to read the punctuation. Her works focus on using HTML coding and ASCII coding along with a multitude of other devices in order to recreate poetry. She takes a post-modern approach to the deconstruction of language, using the Internet as her forum.

What Mez Breeze was trying to do with her language was show how easy it is to create a new one. Languages are often set in stone. They have a standard, “proper” version and then a slang version that is more common. Mez Breeze was trying to break up what might have been the beginning of a “proper” chat language. She was creating a slang within a slang and effectively demonstrating that all language is arbitrary. She showed that it was simple to create another language, all you needed were people willing to speak it.

However, Mez Breeze may have missed that most languages are the way they are due to social contract. People in certain places agree to all speak a certain way so that they can all understand each other. Mez Breeze’s idea of making a new language to show how arbitrary language is might have been more effective if a standard chat language was in place.

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Mez Breeze’s Code Poetry “mezangelle”

The Unreliable Archivist by Janet Cohen, Keith Frank, and Jon Ippolito.

When it comes to digital art, even the way that the art is stored can be artwork in itself. The Unreliable Archivist is a project that was originally coded into Netscape 4 as a tongue in cheek archive unreliable archivist

When the archive is opened, oddity is what expels from it. There is a grainy screen with a small image and off to the left are a collection of sliders. The sliders decide whether the object being affected will be plain, enigmatic, loaded, or preposterous. This can change anything from the background to the words that caption the images. And as one can guess, the things being changed go from believable to just downright weird.

The creators of this archive were certainly trying to say something about the arbitrary things that can happen to art. It’s placement online can affect how it’s interpreted as well as suggestion from captions. The user even has the ability to arbitrarily change the settings on the art. The artists were making a statement about the arbitrary assignment of value to art and using silly phrases and images to demonstrate this.

The artwork is certainly effective in being weird and calling out that art has many interpretations. Every user that goes onto the site will interpret the captions and pictures differently, even if they are the same each time.

The Unreliable Archivist by Janet Cohen, Keith Frank, and Jon Ippolito.

“Liquid Views- Narcissus’s Mirror” by Monika Fleischmann & Wolfgang Strauss

This artwork is a video of two different people looking at their reflection in a small pool of water created by a touch screen. The participants stand hunched over the poor and are left to their own devices as to what they do with the pool. The background noises of the video sound like water dripping and this combined with the blue background gives the watcher the feeling of being underwater. The image of the participant in the water is projected over the video, so both perspectives are seen at once and so anyone watching a live performance sees the reflection of the participant.

I believe that the two creators are trying to make a comment about Narcissism and how it relates to society as a whole. The participants are fascinated by their image in the water and how it can be manipulated at their whim. The artwork is trying to connect that line between virtual worlds created by humans and the natural world that already exists.

I think it is ultimately effective because of the ability to manipulate the mirror. If it had just been a static surface, participants may not have stayed to look at themselves so long. But the mirror is dynamic and gives the participant to choose how it’s controlled. The user is given more power and might take the time later to reflect about the connections between technology, virtual reality and narcissism.

“Liquid Views- Narcissus’s Mirror” by Monika Fleischmann & Wolfgang Strauss

Ian Bogost “A Slow Year”

Game poetry is the concept explored in Ian Bogost’s “A Slow Year.” The artwork is comprised of four Atari game cartridges that are supposed to tell a story about each season. It’s difficult to get a real feel for this game due to the fact that I don’t have the games or an Atari, however, the video on his website shows that the game is comprised of pixelated shapes that don’t have much definition and 8-bit music that plays continuously in the background. The music is a little harsh on the ear, certainly not the music of Super Mario Brothers or other 8-bit games. The non-definitive shapes of the objects are disorienting as they can be difficult to make out.

The whole game has a sense of boredom to it, like the player is supposed to be bored as they play it. This is possibly what Ian Bogost was going for when he created the game. He wanted it to be a meditative experience through life. He might have been trying to create an electronic work that wouldn’t stress out the user like most others had. I’m not entirely sure if he succeeded due to the stressful nature of the graphics and music. Bogost states that he used an Atari to make his game for the simple graphics. He was more focused on making a poem rather than a beautiful game.

If the purpose of the game was to make a statement about how humans can go through so much in their lives that the simple can be lost. Simple graphics and game play make the user step back and realize just how hectic their lives have become. It reminds me of Proteus, a game along the same vein of exploration and relaxation. The game is simple by design. There’s nothing flashy, just human nature and a player to explore their own mind.

Ian Bogost “A Slow Year”

Victoria Vesna’s Bodies INCorporated

Victoria Vesna’s work is mostly silent, unless you should choose to have your body make sound. The art is created as a black and white website with a body and spinning, detached head hovering below the logo of “Bodies INCorporated.” The body is made as a conglomeration of parts, all in different colors and textures.

While going through the site, there’s a weird sense of responsibility. As the user, you’re “ordering” a body that is specified to your decisions based on what you choose through drop down menus. It feels like you’re signing a contract, and the style of the site gives a feeling of trepidation to sighing this contract. The site has a very dystopian/sci-fi feel to it which adds to the uneasiness.

The artwork is designed to point out an tendency for American’s to want to protect what they’ve created. The site stresses that what you’ve created is yours alone and no one can steal credit for the body you have made. There is also the undertone of businesses not taking responsibility for things they do and putting all blame on the end user. The disclaimer mentions many things that the “business” isn’t responsible for, including if viewing your body causes your computer issues.

The site is a comment about responsibility both corporate and human in general. The business is handing over full responsibility to the user, who can now choose to take care of their body or kill it for a new one. The site is wondering who is responsible for life in general. Are the individuals responsible or is there responsibility to the found in other places?

The artwork is effective in making the users feel uneasy about what exactly they are doing. It also is effective in bring responsibility for life to the forefront of the user’s attention. They now have this body and must make the moral choice about how to take care of it. Or they can refuse and kill it off. The choice is all up to the user, not the company.

Victoria Vesna’s Bodies INCorporated