January 15, 2019
Social practice and passion project
Art and social practice can have a few meanings depending on where and when the artist is working. It can be defined alongside with relational aesthetics and socially engaged art. It can encapsulate art in the public space, interactive/inter-relational art, art and engagement, or art intervention. Where artists are concerned with the relationship between people and spaces.
I am concerned with accessibility and the transfer of knowledge within art museums, and how education can be the catalyst to initiate a sense of identity and diverse conversations in these spaces. For me personally, as I started learning about the canon of western art history, I could understand thoughts and attitudes that I had about being viewing myself as a woman. I was able to understand why society viewed women in a certain way when it pertained to their physical or mental houses. Then when you look at depiction of women in art, you can visually see the way that women are contextualized within these ideas that are very much outdated but still persist. Once I was able to understand where these ideas came from, I was able to break them down and build my own house of beliefs.
With this realization and transfer of knowledge I took my newly-found confidence I eventually found myself studying in Europe this past summer at over fifty art and cultural museums. Before I left the US, my intentions were to set out to study how queer women was being expressed through visual art in Europe. To my surprise, I didn't not see very much art concerning with queer identity nor women. It still was very much focused on this hierological importance still given to male descendants of European ancestry within art history. Most of the state museums still held Caravaggio, Reubens, Rembrandts, and etc as the standard. Don't get me wrong, I think these are amazing artists, but why do we consider them the masters? Why do I have to study these artists? Why are we not studying other artworks before these artists? Who says that these are the most important artists? What would our museums look like if these paintings were no longer the standard? Would we still just walk around silently gazing? Would the average museum goer have more information and context behind that sculpture that is from a different culture than their own? Would folks from different backgrounds have more confidence to go into art museums if they felt that they had more of a presence there other than the "other"? Would Society be more colorful if everyone felt as if they were a "master" artist? What happens when we start to label ourselves? What happens when you are on the old label? Or the new label? How do the dominate structures change? When the power is redirected will we carry things out as business goes, or start a new model?
I also believe that we can't just ignore our past, but we must learn to understand it and transfer the knowledge and space to others who have not had much room.
Another topic that I am developing a passion for is the transfer of knowledge within tech industries. I had the pleasure of meeting Nadya Peek, professor at UW in Human Centered Design, and they had this beautiful outlook on the future of technology where the general public would have the skill set to make whatever machines that they needed. For example, let's say that you are a waiter in a restaurant (Shoutout to my restaurant industry people, thank you for the years of support, I love you all. You are the hardest working people) and every time you want to reset the table in between courses you need to wipe the crumbs from the last course before you reset. Problem is the guest is busy enjoy each other, so no matter your level of comfort, you still have to get a little to close for comfort to wipe the table down well. What if you could design and fabricate your own little machine that you could bring to the table that would sense where things were on the table and wipe it clean for you? What if you could even design and build your own machine that would set the table up afterwards just the way that you like it done? Or what if you could develop your own machine to help you make machines that prototype your designs for you? Again, I am interested in the transfer of knowledge. What if we didn't have to pay thousands of dollars for our Mac and PCs, and instead we could build our very own computer to do what we needed specifically? What if we could save the hours of labor spent in factories making these products for us? What if we save thousands of carbon emissions by not having to distribute technology around vast lands? What if we took the power of machines to help us do our jobs more efficiently, because we know them best, and had more time to be with loved ones? What would we make? Why would we make it? Who would be able to have access to it? What comes after the internet and machines? What if the public consciousness through more about where and who is providing their technology? Who is going to fund this sort of education?
In 2006 I had experienced some trauma, which has led to an intense feeling of body disassociation and anxiety. I have found a lot of good and bad ways to cope with these feelings throughout the years. However, in Fall 2018 I started learning about mechanical engineering art, or mechatronic art at UW. My professor, Afroditi Psarra, who is working with e-textiles and brought Nadya to my class for a lecture. I designed my first wearable project which was made specifically for my body and its anxieties. It is a two-piece transparent black fit, which has a circuit on the chest that powers three vibration motors to help calm anxiety. I designed earrings that connect to the circuit, and when I am experiencing disassociated sensations or anxiety I can touch the earrings and the sensor will ignite the circuit motors. For my first e-textile, it wasn't a complete failure; however with this experience, my drive and passion to inspire people to learn how to make their own technology I hope to explore this idea more on a personal and communal level.