Computer Art 2 Final Project Proposal

/ 4 November 2013

After the break you will find the proposal I submitted back on Friday for my final project in Computer Art 2. These are individualized projects where we’re going off our original goals more than set project requirements. My project will focus on creating images that depict community in one way or another. How the images get presented will itself be an outgrowth for community as well. By the end of this week I may be able to post some of my initial ideas for what some of these images might be.

I will first discuss the output (presentation) of my final project since that is what will tie into my original goals. I’ve always put my finished computer art on my website, but only once done anything super-fancy, and that wasn’t trying to mimic a physical installation nor act as an all-encompassing archive of my work. In presenting my final project I will try and create a more immersive web-based experience that tries to mimic what such images would be like in the gallery space at the BAC. To the extent that I can with the time given and raw tools I will use I will also try and factor in that you aren’t usually in a gallery alone. There are usually others viewing the images at the same time. Thus there should be a social element to the immersive experience I create. Perhaps this is as simple as a count of how many of viewed the gallery today, perhaps it is with social sharing capabilities, perhaps with direct commenting. Who knows exactly, I may well do all of these, one of these, or if I’m under severe time constraints have none of these in by the end of this semester. I shy away from tools like Adobe’s Dreamweaver or Apple’s (now killed off) iWeb precisely because they are graphical editors. As someone who knows HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP I much prefer to work in web editing apps that are code text editors with built-in filesystem-level access through (S)FTP. In other words, for such a presentation for this project, I will be writing nearly all the code involved by hand and never opening Dreamweaver.

If that part of the project will take more time than printing and framing possibly can, I probably shouldn’t intend to create many new images for this project. So, I’ve begun to like the notion that I use this opportunity to gather together much of the digital art I have done over the past few years, including bits of stuff I did in my high school days. For some of the more recent images (my self-portrait, perhaps, and others) it may be cool to show the process I use. Maybe I do this by having a version of those images with the sketch and even original image overlay-able in the web interface. A basic organizational structure for the gallery could then be based on year and project.

Here at CSB/SJU one word that gets ground into us through our experience is community. Having ways of sharing my images is an expression of that in actions that the viewers are able to do. But there ought to be a visual representation of that as well. This is where all the images I create new (or modify already-existing photos) for this project come in. They should be representing communities, the lowest level of which is family. One image would be a photo of me with my immediate family that I actually took within the photo shoot for the second computer art one project. Another may be drawn (literally, to an extent, with the style I used in the portrait project) from the sketch I did of the Mughal painting I’m researching for Carol’s class: “Fakir Khan and His Sons”. Yet another may be collaged together of photos of most of my extended family. Perhaps I resurrect the four sustainability staff drawings and combine those into yet another image to show community. It would be two to four such images that are the capstones in this gallery of my digital work thus far.

If the last two paragraphs were describing the subject matter and content together then I should still touch on the emotions I would like to convey. At first glance a gallery with many images that I worked on some years ago I cannot help but see the gallery displaying many emotions. That being said, the emotion I would aim for the design of the site to evoke is one of joyful exploration into the development of my current digital art style and process. This is something that would allow the viewers to experience mixed emotions within the varied art they’re seeing yet always return to something joyful in its reflection.

In creating the few images I will need to I will largely use the same techniques and software I already have for the portrait project, those being the equal mix of Photoshop in the lab and Pixelmator on my Mac. As needed, like for the collaging, I may use other graphics tools to combine images into the final puzzle of an image. On the gallery creation portion of this project, this ends up work that would purely be doable just from my Mac using a piece of software named Coda for the code editing and uploading. Really the specific techniques used will in large part be dependent on the needs of each image gathering from the past and preparing for inclusion and the types of images that the images I create new will be.

Perhaps, due to complexity of the web gallery idea(s) that are floating in my head I should actually start the work of my final project by developing the skeleton of the site itself and adding some of the first organizational layers and images in. When that is completed I could then work one-by-one on the capstone community images as my remaining time allows. That way I can’t get stuck without a thoughtfully worked out presentation of my images, I just may have fewer new images than originally planned.

I realize that this proposed project ends up far heavier on the presentation than new images. Of that, the presentation is work that involves lots web programming, which is something that while I know quite fluently is not, I’m guessing, a strong suit of yours at all. However, this “art of failure” that coding is can be viewed, especially in its completed, state as a form of art, and anyway it connects my original goals with the more standard digital art I have so much of that should be displayed logically together. The split between the web gallery development and the work on the few images I do create new for this project may end up being the line down which the work I do outside of class and that which I do in class rests. For the image creation I almost need Photoshop at times, but the web development purely at the code level doesn’t, I’m sure, integrate well with Dreamweaver and thus I would be bringing my Mac to do that in class. Except if there is image work to be done that wouldn’t need my Mac then I might as well plan on that in class for simplicity’s sake.

This is a project idea that has been circling in my head slowly being formed nearly all semester, and a project idea that is not necessarily ever going to be fully formed until I’m deeply in the midst of it. But outlined here is the current incarnation of what the majority of this project feels like it will be as of now. In and of itself portions of this project could be their own projects, and perhaps I should just go with one of those, but having the larger project thought out at least leaves open the possibility that I do the entire thing. Even if not for this class, then perhaps a few months from now when I graduate and might have more time on my hands.