"Global Proposal for a New Emoticon" BFA Thesis

At the Center for Visual Art in Denver, CO.

Thesis Statement  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Digital communication, textual and pictorial, is the daily bread of contemporary life in a techno-enthused society. In "Global Proposal for a New Emoticon", the relationship between the psyche and digital expression (YouTube) is explored through contemporary art practices (performance, video, and installation). The use of a YouTube channel as medium provides an intentional documentation on modern-day narcissism, and the failings of "instant gratification" digital expression.

Where there is a limitation of language, there is a void of expression. My installation is a large sculptural environment that reflects this concept, and is designed to house a performer (myself). I use my body in my art as a tool for pictorial narrative and a vehicle for complex emotive expression. Until an object-body becomes a subject-body, the body will only ever be acted upon by outside forces. Once the body realizes its objecthood, it becomes a subject and can thus begin acting upon its environment. Through the act of food preparation, where a kitchen becomes a metaphor for activity, the performer becomes an agent of creation. Through the act of attempting to consume these foods while watching television, the performer becomes an agent of consumption, where the living room is a metaphor for passivity. Through the binaries of participation and spectatorship, technology is convicted in a case against digital communication dependence. Sherry Turkle - writer, professor, psychologist, and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self - writes about technology and its psychological effects upon the human mind/spirit, especially regarding the internet, the personality, and the culture of instant gratification. We are now living in a culture where the instant gratification from communicating feelings through online experiences becomes dangerous; the danger is in having become dependent upon technology for the expression and edification of feelings.

As I blindly consume the "food" of my habitat, I reveal a relationship between being "logged on" to the internet while being "checked out" from my immediate surroundings (my own reception). I chose to work in a medium fit for the job: a YouTube channel. I uploaded 400 of my own home videos over a year's time. By using my own life as a subject, I critique the culture of "uploading the self", of instant gratification, and narcissism. With a stockpile of hundreds of videos, I created two works of video art for my thesis performance (one as wall projection and one as television programming), and designed a new emoticon after scrupulously analyzing the visual data. From this data, I formulated a ratio of mind-spirit-body 'incidences' based off of each video's predominant content, and that ratio mathematically informed the design of the new emoticon. The three parts of the ratio were the basis of the three structural components of the new emoticon, 'psychospiritual transformation.' The emoticon is itself an absurdity that aims to point to the current flatness that our primitive technology suffers from. The post-performance remnants will be on display throughout the exhibition, and serve as the trace of a psychospiritual, transformative act against emptiness in all its forms.

"Global Proposal for a New Emoticon" considers how technology may or may not evolve to meet the needs of the human psyche that is evolving along side it, and if and when digital communication could ever match the complexity and efficiency of tens of thousands of years in human body language. By employing my body in my art, I choose complexity over simplicity. I point to the sterility of the contemporary 'white cube' gallery, and the lifelessness of art out of context from life in general. In a state of questioning and re-examining what is important in art and culture, I utilize parody as a tool for that questioning. I seriously question the addictive, sedentary nature of a culture consumed in ever-increasing digital worlds; the trademark of the twenty-first century is an obsessive consumption of emptiness, which goes hand in hand with the hyper-institutionalization of art. We are here to change this. It's up to us to fill the void of emptiness; to embed our imprints in all we do. How else can the digital take its course into a hopeful future? The future is bright, indeed...

Irrationally Logical Process  ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Golden Ratio of the Self: 
Mining the Video-Journal Data for an Archetype 
of PsychoSpiritual Transformation and It's Visual Expression

New Emoticon:

1st element: psycho (mind) 

2nd element: spiritual (spirit)

3rd element: transformation (body)

mind:spirit:body ratio = 15:13:12  
where 15:13:12 is the basic expression of relationship of the 3 components above, as mined and identified over the course of reviewing 400 instances of daily routine (the video-stock YouTube channel)
psycho - short for psychological, or mental processes 
act of will; ego; vibrational 'outward' energy expression (not an object) 
ex:  "((((o))))" where o = object
spiritual - long word for spirit, or spiritual beliefs or experiences
act of service; subservience or non-ego; vibrational 'inward' energy expression (not an object)   
ex:  "))))o((((" where o = object
transformation - to transform 
verbs (actions) need bodies (nouns): all physical bodies transform (molecules, eg.) and all non-physical bodies transform (thoughts, eg.), therefore, bodies of material and bodies of knowledge do transform over time; stagnant 'objects', or bodies, are either acted upon or act upon another body 
ex:  "[oø/]" where [ ] indicates a unified body; a message; a strand of imprints that communicate the nature of the whole body and where oø/ = transformation 
*the transformation symbol was created through a series of logical visual steps (circle, circle plus slash, slash minus circle)

Special thanks to John David Davenport (Denver, CO) for event photography.