The Context Section (first draft)

9 10 2009

Below is the initial draft of the Context Section of my proposal.

My current creative process, research interests and visual aesthetic are informed by seminal theories of space and society from new media theorist, Lev Manovich and cultural theorist Homi K. Bhaba as well as several artists who have addressed similar issues in their work.

Manovich links concepts of postmodern spacialization (privileging space over time and consequently flattening time and narrative) with the advent of Human Computer Interfaces (a literal realization of this hierarchy of space over time and history) [78].  The result is a new visual aesthetic that Manovich refers to as ‘spatial wandering’. I intend to apply and reinterpret this concept of ‘spatial wandering’ in the creation of a digital collage of moving, fading and morphing spaces looped temporally but evolving spatially.

My visual aesthetic has been influenced by the ‘joiners’ of David Hockney. Hockney’s pre-digital photocollages flattened time to unite a series of moments and points of view (Polaroid exposures) to give the essence of a landscape. It is in these flattened moments of time that I feel the transnational community can be viewed in its entirety. Moving from Hockney’s purely aesthetic exploration, I wish to represent the paradoxes of a transnational identity and to capture the contradictions of existing in two places and times at once– feeling both integrated and displaced.

As further framework to my image making, I will use Manovich’s deconstruction of digital compositing and its influence on the montage aesthetic. He identifies new digital dimensions to visuality in 1) the spatial order of layers, 2) the virtual space constructed through compositing and 3) the movement of layers in relation to the image frame [157].* (a further dimension of ‘linked information’ was part of Manovich’s list new digital dimensions but it does not apply to this project) These digital dimensions are then qualified as ‘spatial montages’ under these two conditions: “(The) Juxtapositions of elements should follow a particular system, and these juxtapositions should play a key role in how the work establishes its meaning, and its emotional and aesthetic effect” [158]. Evaluation and guidance for this project will then be measured against Manovich’s new visual aesthetics and his consequent definition of the ‘spatial montage’.

Bhaba’s theories on transnationalism and postmodern space will further serve to define my priority of place over time in this project. Specifically I will address Bhaba’s interpretations of a ‘Third Space’.* (In Bhaba’s article “How Newness Enters the World: Postmodern Space, postcolonial times and the trials of cultural translation”, Bhaba deconstructs Fredric Jameson’s theories of transnationalism and late capitalism and adds further critique to Marxist insights on space.) Bhaba concludes, “What is at issue is the performative nature of differential identities… (that) find their agency in a form of the ‘future’ where the past is not originary, (and) where the present is not simply transitory.

Artists Coco Fusco and Guillermo Gomez-Peña have, for me, addressed these issues of ‘differential identities’ in their individual art practices and in their collaborations. In a collaborative performance piece, Two Undiscovered Amerindians Visit Buenos Aires (1994), Fusco and Gomez-Peña commented on the ‘otherization’ of people.  The work displayed fictional caged natives (the artists in costume) in a museum setting performing ludicrous but stereotypical acts of an ‘untouched, pure’ native. In this work colonial history is uncomfortably brought to the present.  The artists, cage and unknowing audience become players in a space where time, history and accepted narrative is confused. I wish to represent a similar essence of confusion, illusion and uncomfortableness to reiterate Bhaba’s ‘Third Space’ where identity challenges time and borders.