Project Name: EYE SEE ART
Shooting Time: 2/27, 2018
Technical Equipment: Canon 6D, small studio holding the camera with lighting, Dragonframe (with external keyboard), Premiere, Mac Computer.
Description: Experimenting with stop motion, EYE SEE ART is a short video project that aims to answer two questions from the Paul Thek’s 4D Design Question List: Why does an icon has to be human, and, what is the purpose of art, in which both of them seem to be led toward a single direction: self-amputation.
The two questions I am answering are –
Why does an icon has to be human? (This question has been slightly shifted to: Why does an object has to be human?)
What is the purpose of art?
The second question is actually a daily review question to me. I often think to myself, what is the purpose of art, as a person who loves art since borne and majors in IMA. The more we move on in this class the more I overcome various art perspectives in the form of “If I call this art, it’s art.” Things can be meaningful to some people but can at the same time make no sense at all to others. Therefore, this project addresses the trend how “relatable” has become a so important criterion these days when we view art and all other things. The formation of art is when the creator puts a part of him/herself inside the art work, and the audience perceive it through their own angles built by individual experience. The purpose of art may not be the message itself, but how we “encounter” with art and “how we think” about it. This is also to address the controversy that often times people are just “good at speaking” while don’t have to much to show in the real work. Art is meaningful when we try to explain it.
The reason why the first question can be related to the second one is because that they all emphasizes the concept of “self-amputation.” We “put ourselves” in daily objects so we can better perceive them. In this video project, I show different kinds of “art” through a consistent way, that is, to add eyes to every art piece or object that appears. This concept comes from McCloud’s Understanding Comics where a thing can be seen as a human when one simply adds two eyes onto it. By doing this, I somehow has become the creator of these “art work,” and it is like adding an active element to a passive experience. The scenes are composed of elements that are not necessarily related to each other, but by the adding of eyes and my giving new titles to my work, they are in a sequence from more self-explained works to the stage of arbitrary definitions. I would argue that this project is extremely visual-driven, like how we mostly encounter things first by visual without fully understanding them. So below is the order of the list of items that appear in this video:
Starry Starry Eyes (Originally Van Gogh’s Starry Night) – A very famous painting. It is so famous and clear that the art piece is self-explained. By adding the eyes onto it, the scene becomes more lively, and the eyes become the stars that grab the most attention, dominating the original artwork.
Cola Family (Originally Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans) – There is an ongoing debate about whether Pop Art counts as a category of art, since it is just simply repeating objects and placing them aside each other in multiple rows. However, I think what’s prominent is not “what” Pop Art presents, but “why” what is presented is called art. It is an exploration of using and arranging materials and topics in art, and the “introducing of this new kind of thinking” that count as art.
Untitled (An electric automatic cooker and steamer) (Originally Edvard Munch’s The Scream) – This scene is just trying to be funny. It also shows how a daily object can be related to human by the resemblance of the human face. This scene acts as a transition.
Virgin Bloom – From this stage things start to become arbitrary. I used 3 tampons to create the shape of flower, and added two eyes on the top. Some males may think: Eww! But Virgin Bloom is trying to show how women sometimes feel released by still having their period (not old enough or not pregnant) and in the whole trying to create a sense of women power by the “flower” blooming. This simple scene has this meaning because I said so.
A Plate of Gender Fluidity – It all relies on my title given to the object that shapes how you think about this scene. A plate, then becoming a plate of water, can show the concept of gender fluidity by adding two paper eyes onto it and let them float around. This scene is even more arbitrary than the previous one. I originally wanted to show the reflection of myself in the water, but it didn’t work out. Eventually I still achieved my goal, that is the scene would not necessarily fits to the title: A Plate of Gender Fluidity, if there weren’t eyes added, since the adding of eyes resembles human.
The Unpredictability of Humanity – This is the last scene, when human (ourselves) finally “physically” becomes a part of the art work. The hand making an arch upward/downward, it represents the human mouth and connects to our emotions. Our feelings are constantly changing and it may affect the art we are creating or how we see the same art piece. The black eyeball on the white plate resembles the very first scene of an eye, which shows why an object has to be human; the changing of the hand gestures that represents our thoughts, which is self-amputation, the purpose of art, still includes an important feature – the Unpredictability of Humanity.
- Conceptual development, brainstorming on sketch papers: This stage took me the longest. Since the two questions I am answering to in this project are all very “theoretical,” it is relatively hard to visualize. I researched a lot and came up with a lot of things in daily lives which has parts that look like human faces, but putting them all together is just random. While an idea can be random, how elements contribute to the idea has to be specific and meaningful. Based on this notion, I rethink more with the items first, and then assemble them in a meaningful order (explained above inside conceptual development section).
- Work on storyline, draw out the scenes: Once I had the order of the scenes, I still had to draw them out in details. For stop motion I think it’s more efficient to figure out how everything moves before actual shooting, so that I can just follow the drawings to move the item. I drew the scenes as in detail as possible; each scene takes up a single side of a sketch paper, with tools that I need to use on the bottom, so it was super clear as I moved on to the next steps. Drawing them out also help visualizing the concept since it could be hard to imagine every single move in head. Here are the sketches of scenes:
- Prepare the props: There are 2D props on paper and 3D props of physical stuff.
- Setting up the shooting scene, test the camera values and lighting: After setting up the camera on the lighting-studio stand, I adjusted the ISO values in cooperation with the physical lighting, and make sure where the screen edges are on the table of the stand.
- Actual Shooting and mid-editing with Dragonframe: It actually took me faster than I thought of doing this project. I benefited from using Dragon Frame a lot because it can easily add and delete frames, duplicate the repeatable routines, and adjust all the camera values on the PC. During the shooting process I would constantly review the entire thing so far and make critical adjustments, while there were more adjustments as a whole after the shooting was done. The hardest part would be to adjust every single “googly eyes” so as to make the whole video look livelier.
- After-production with Premiere: Using Premiere, besides adding texts and sounds, I was able to adjust some of the frames I shot in Dragonframe. I mostly extended some of the already duplicated frames when I felt that the scene could stay longer in the screen. In the past I mostly have a rough assembly of sequence and I would edit more after adding in music or sound effects. However this time, because the sequence was mostly done in Dragonframe before importing in Premiere, I dealt with the footage and then added in sound along with the existing timeline.
Other thoughts on this stop motion assignment:
I think we are kind of restricted to the limited of time and equipment and thus affecting out choice of the project size and the materials we use. Many choose to use the camera stand with lighting in IMA which can only shoot things from a overlooking perspective, shooting paper materials, the most accessible materials. So when I was doing my own project, I tried to avoid pure paper and text to be different from others.
A thing the professor constantly brought up, and definitely not in the sense of criticizing, is that “as an artist,” the professor says, we have to challenge ourselves both in conceptual or physical development, even if that makes us uncomfortable. We have to embrace the uncomfortable if the meaning of the art project can be shown fully or more in depth in this way. Thanks to this class and these assignments that really push us to think of various ways we can make art, video-art specifically, to discuss topics we deeply inside want to extend on but usually don’t have the chance or medium to.