English and Computing in the Arts
Margaret Noble and Sani Vanderspek
On Tuesday, May 16th, 2017 – The graduating seniors of High Tech High Media Arts presented a compelling and provocative interactive art exhibition on impressions of social, cultural, technological, and ideological constructs as interpreted through historical art movements. Fifty students presented interactive art experiences based on their research and personal experiences to examine the question, “Does art represent, record, and predict history?” Through artistic renderings and interactive programming design, these 50 teenagers provoked youths and adults alike to reconsider their notions of art’s past on today.
KPBS News Story featuring Old School vs. Now
Exhibition and Student Project Photos
E.A. & R.D.
Expressionism Then and Now
In our project about Expressionism, audience members will be met with a choice of exploring two art shows. The first art show is a recreation of the Degenerate Art Show, an art show Hitler held to ridicule art which he deemed as “wrong” or immoral. Hitler saw art styles such as modern, abstract, and expressionist as lesser and unworthy of praise. The second art show is a recreation of the Museum Of Modern Art’s art show featuring art from countries included in Donald Trump’s travel ban. Audience members can rollover the various paintings in both art shows to gain additional information on the history of the art pieces and the artist’s’ perspective.
When audience members complete a cycle through the art show, they are looped back to the starting screen so that they may choose the alternate path. By doing this they can connect the past to the present in terms of art and opinion. This creates a discourse based on the connections audience members have created.
Our project revolves around the concept of subjectivity and how one’s perception of a piece affects their enjoyment of the piece. The Degenerate Art Show enforces our point because it was held specifically to mock art that Hitler personally disliked. The Degenerate Art show attempted to make the audience perceive the art as wrong. They did this by choosing a venue that was minuscule, dimly lit, and hanging the art crooked and close together. The pieces in the art shows were set to be burned, however a large amount of the paintings were salvaged by those who enjoyed them and hid that fact. This meshes with our second art show, The Modern Art show, which brings up the topic of subjectivity in regards of people. The Modern Art show is a recreation of The Museum Of Modern Art’s show with pieces from countries included in Trump’s travel ban. This serves to ask the audience the question “Should others opinion affect yours?”
What inspired us to make our project is wanting to tell the history of the Degenerate Art Show. Knowledge of this art show isn’t common, and people should discuss and become more aware of it. By learning about how Hitler took people’s art and livelihood, the exploration of this dark but true history which can prevent events like this from happening again.
S.S. & S.O.
Pixel Art: The New Impressionism
In this project, we interpreted Impressionism as a retro “ISpy” video game. We aimed to connect Impressionism to pixel art in form, then anti-formally, in intention. The hidden images are a tribute to Renaissance and religious art, which, ironically, Impressionist artists sought to distance themselves from. Our video game works as a timeline. It makes note of modernity in both the 19th century and the 21st century and illustrates both Impressionism as it was and our own interpretation of it in the present and future.
We aim to challenge the audience’s perception of the future by asking several questions: Is the image of destruction an accurate depiction of the future? What might we do as a society to prevent this? We provided a narrative related to our hidden images which may explain the travesties in the end screen, but it is up to the viewer to decide to accept our explanation blindly or find his or her own interpretation based on the social, political, and environmental climate of today.
We created “ISpy: Impressionism” using Processing 2 -a Java based programming language. Our game allows players to experience the new Impressionism. Through the game, the player can see how art is used to document modernity. In our ISpy game, the players search for five things that are constant in every time period (love, death, happiness, sadness and hope. After finding these five constants, filling up the progress bar, a portal will appear. This portal will take you to our own interpretation of a new future and show how these constants of life and modernity have affected the world -the new modern.
To design the game screens, we used a combination of Pixel art, an online pixel art program, and Photoshop. We added life to our game screens by carefully animating one aspect which gives each game screen the sense of ephemeral beauty. Each picture is frozen in time, but somehow still alive.
We contrasted bright pastel colors that emulate the palate of impressionist paintings with somber and neon colors to depict a technological dystopian modernity.
Ultimately, our project investigates how past and present art movements connect to each other through Impressionism and pixel art.
B.K. & C.S.
A Stimulating Simulation
We hope to show the importance of propaganda in World War II and in the current day. In the second world war, propaganda worked not only as a motivator for citizens and soldiers, but served as a reflection of society as a whole. We believe it reflects society in many ways.
During World War II, propaganda was crucial. This type of art inspired the American populous to join the war; it created more jobs, scared the enemy, and helped conserve resources. After the war, many of the posters were then appropriated for social movements like the civil rights and the second wave of feminism in the 1960s. m.,
Our project showcases this history by giving the user full control of propaganda production during World War II. We created a “choose your own path” style interaction that tracks the country’s reaction from user selections. At the end of the experience, a future based on the propaganda you decided to create is displayed. This not only gives the user an interactive experience with decision theory, it also demonstrates size-able consequences for the propaganda they created during their experience.
We were inspired by the propaganda pieces from the Rosie the Riveter campaign and feel that they show how propaganda from that era influenced the second big wave of feminism. We also incorporated propaganda that supported the war effort to show how it was used as a psychological weapon.
For every great campaign or movement there is an even greater movement backing it up. Without the support of many American artists, the United States would never had joined the war.
E.S. & S.C.
Old School vs New: Art for the Masses
Our project was made to preserve the meaning Baroque art intended to convey in the 16th century; to inspire and give hope in the lives of everyday people. Our art piece relaxes its viewer while simultaneously exposes them to the Baroque style of art. We did this by physically projecting a digital art piece on a ceiling so that the audience could focus their full attention to the aesthetics and sounds. By adding modern music and animating effects within the still art piece, we demonstrate technology’s role in helping preserve Baroque’s originality. We hope others will take inspiration from the Baroque movement as well.
By recreating the Baroque style, we hope to preserve the intentions and ideas of the original movement to inspire the audience to keep going, pay attention to detail, and strive for excellence. Our digital art piece is designed to bring old school art to anyone. We want people to experience art they would normally have to travel long distances to see with a modern twist to inspire the masses and show that anyone can create and enhance old school art.
Emily’s research showed that some artists, like Michelangelo, made the art with the intent to rebel the church by including everyday people with no significance to the Bible. Some found this offensive and rejected his work. Meanwhile, Sierra found that the art was solely made for the church and included only pure characters. Although our essays concluded different intentions, we were able to discover that no type of art can be generalized to carry the same meaning. Every artist is impacted differently from social, racial, monetary and geographic locations.
Baroque art inspired people to resist the urge to give up and push through the difficult times. The project you see here is our interpretation of the art as 21st century students and scholars.
J.E. & B.T.
The Aesthetics of Vaporwave
In this project, we seek to question artistic norms and validate the Vaporwave art movement in the eyes of the public. We want our viewers to question what truly defines art. Although Vaporwave art is devalued for its nonsensical appearance, it should be validated as art because of the message that accompanies its visuals -the critique of consumerism. Much like Vaporwave, the Dada art movement was also misunderstood in its time for its inability to clearly communicate its message through art. Today, Dada is a widely appreciated artistic style. We argue that Vaporwave shares similar qualities to Dada Art, as it questions the norms of society with postmodern imagery.
Through this piece, we will expose our audience to the aesthetics of Vaporwave and highlight the imagery and music associated with Vaporwave. We will provide the viewer with sound samples to immerse the viewer in nostalgia with early computer graphics along with Roman busts, nineties design, and Japanese anime. This is the parody of our societies consumer commercial culture.
Our project will also backup Vaporwave’s authenticity by providing the viewer with a historical slideshow on Dada. As the Dada movement criticized social events during its time of war with propaganda to expose corrupt government institutions, we utilize president Donald Trump. Our current president represented through Vaporwave challenges the media as it glorifies political giants, capitalist culture, and wealthy celebrities to brainwash the public.
Our main influences for this project were the formal aesthetics and anti-formal context behind Vaporwave with its critique of capitalism and consumer culture. Vaporwave in itself is a reaction to consumerism focused on the fall of western civilization.
Despite the negativity associated with Vaporwave, it is a growing community open for experience. Vaporwave represents the past, present, and the future of a changing society and should be validated as an art form.
Art should not only be defined by the wealthy.
A.C. & R.S.
A Darker Side of Performance Art
We created our project with Performance Art in mind, except this type of Performance Art focused on the horrors of society and was called Viennese Actionism. The movement in the 1960s and 70s focused on shocking the viewers with violent and explicit content to protest post WWII bourgeois European governments.
Günter Brus was one of the co-founders of Viennese Actionism and in one of his most famous pieces, Vienna Walk, he walked the streets of Vienna in a white suit with blood covering his head and chest. He described this action to be a sort of live painting that illustrated the horrors of WWII.
We wish to continue Günter Brus’ critique of society and highlight some of the more recent horrors of our own society coded with photoshop images and the bloody image of Brus.
Our idea was to mimic this performance with the use of Brus himself to bring attention to the ways in which we become numb to the horrors of society.
How many times will you walk past before taking action?
J.M. & S.H.
This project illustrates the similarities between the United States and Soviet Russia through art. Our project connects Socialist Realism to the present day by focusing on how it was enforced as an artistic doctrine. In the 1930s, art work that did not fall under the category of socialism could get the artist executed or exiled. Pieces always needed to depict Soviet Russia and its leaders, in a positive light. Our piece compares this notion to the ways the governments in both of these countries have historically dealt with censorship.
We have created an interactive game that shows different art styles in which you choose the right or wrong one. You have to pick the correct piece of art out of a set of three in order to advance. If you select the incorrect piece, your character is executed. Halfway through the game, it transitions into modern day censorship, comparing ordinary works of art to more controversial pieces.
We feel these two governments are quite similar in censorship and hope to raise awareness to censorship which still exists today, despite our right to free speech guaranteed by the first amendment. Artists and establishments lose funding, people have been taken to court, when does censorship need to be censored?
C.D. & J.S.
A Country on the Run
Our project uses Magical Realism to show a different view on the crisis in the Middle East from what is commonly shown. We hope, with this piece, people begin to view these people as people. Many do not have a place to live, and are running from a force that is destroying their home.
We illustrate this crisis through the lens of Magical Realism. The Syrian refugee crisis is very similar to the situation which actually started Magical Realism. In the 1920s after WWI, Germany was in a state of brutal disrepair.
The people of Germany were starving, the economy was at its worst, and the government was in shambles. German artists at the time needed a way to express their feelings about the world. They did this through Expressionism then Magical Realism. Magical Realism, brought together real events with magical elements to express the world around them. During WWII, the Nazis deemed Magical Realism (as well as Neue Sachlichkeit) as degenerate art, and destroyed paintings that represented those art movements. The German Magical Realism art movement was completely destroyed by the 1940s. However, the German refugees brought Magical Realism to the rest of the world.
Magical Realism in itself was a difficult art movement to work with as there is not a particular style or set of rules that people follow. Each artist has their own unique way of incorporating magical elements.
Rob Gonsalves’s art inspired our own. Gonsalves in his work often juxtaposes unrelated subjects which we incorporated into this piece. We show the dichotomy between Syria, and other parts of the world, before and after the crisis began. We hope people will understand events which may seem small actually affect the entire world.
K.C. & K.N.
W A L K
In order to understand, explore, and appreciate the world around you, you must discard the items you do not need. Minimalism is not about subtraction. Rather, it is about removing the unessential and distracting aspects in your life in order to live more freely; by this we mean free of redundancies, free of the unneeded, and free of the societal norm to continuously purchase things solely because they are new.
W A L K transports you into a world of isometric design with three major sections: the Park, the Metropolis, and the Shore. When the program is initiated your character rushes through the landscape with hands full of useless items. From the start, you will experience the world moving past you very quickly and you do not have a chance to admire the environment around you. As you reach the end of the map, the game restarts. This represents the life you could have if you focus on chasing after the things you do not need. It is up to you to discard these items and break free from the maximalist lifestyle your character has. Once you do this, you will find the world opens up to you in ways you never thought possible. All you had to do was focus.
Our interactive experience works from an excerpt from Bruce Lee’s 2009 novel, Wisdom for the Way, in which he writes, “Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own”. We found that this notion encapsulated the mentality many Minimalist artists had about their work during the movement. Although Bruce Lee is not recorded to be a Minimalist, his shared knowledge does ring true to many Minimalist ideals, for example he also said “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential”. We believe this speaks more to the more modern Minimalist lifestyle, which is the platform we chose for our program.
One of our main inspirations for this piece was a popular iOS game called Monument Valley. Though the concept and controls of the two games are different, the design is similar. This incorporates the aesthetics of flat design and combines it with three dimensional space. The result is a very modern looking 3D image that incorporates simple colors and minimal design aspects. We borrowed this design and implemented it into our own work while still staying true to our own ideas.
In the end, Minimalism is not about reduction. It is instead about focusing on what is needed.
J.E. & C.M.
Conceptualization of Society:
A Commentary on the Modern World as We Know It
Conceptual Art is perhaps one of the most misunderstood, controversial, and open art movements of its time. The movement is based on the idea that the concept behind the artwork is the most significant aspect of the work. It emerged as an art movement in the 1960s, inspired by Dadaism, and Surrealism. Conceptualism today encompasses a myriad of forms, such as performances, happenings, and ephemera.
As a reaction to Formalism, conceptual art placed the aesthetic importance secondary to the concept; however, the formal aspects of the piece are still what the viewer sees. Understanding many pieces and the movement as a whole often requires knowing the concept behind the art, artist, or movement. Although this can create a barrier in appreciating the work, we argue that even with a formal approach, there is still value.
Conceptual art must have a concept, but it must also have a physical representation. We have found that one can appreciate a work of art with a formal standpoint without knowing a piece’s history.
We were very inspired by the neon works of Joseph Kosuth; the flashing neon lights attract the eye to the work and provide a layer of irony behind the concepts we use.
Our piece works as a commentary on society, more specifically the darker side -decorated in neon splashing strobes of vivid color. The work we do is not meant to be looked at literally but from the open angle of conceptualism.
We hope the viewer walks away with their own interpretation of our work.
S.N. & A.P.
Tatlin’s Tower Climb
Our project is a story driven game, one in which, you traverse a tower. This tower is an icon of Constructivism. It is argued that contemporary art took inspiration from movements such as Minimalism and Constructivism. Our mission is to teach the audience about how the architecture around the world came to be. We hope people will gain awareness of Constructivism as a movement which impacted our surroundings today.
As you climb the tower there will be different artists from various movements that contributed to the final stage of Contemporary architecture. Each artist describes their role and movement. At the beginning the user is asked to question how modern architecture came to be. As a result, they are sent back in time to when Constructivism was in its prime and climb the tower.
We felt that a video game interface was the most relevant to our generation and one many people in our society are familiar with. The purpose of ascending the tower is to return the user to their home. This motive forces the user to understand the movement before they finish the game. With their new knowledge, we hope the user gains an enhanced perspective on the world around by using key elements and ideas from art movements.
Tatlin’s Tower shows the progression of architecture from past to present. There is not much else to do in the game but progress forward -a major theme of our interactive experience. The notion of progress parallels with the linear progression of time. Tatlin’s Tower was created by the main contributor of Constructivism and served as a beacon to all future movements.
All great things come from simple ideas that were built upon.
T.A. & A.A.
Surrealism is Timeless
Surrealism does not fail to surprise.
Instagram does not fail to attract.
In our piece, we implemented surrealist art into an Instagram like interface as current teens are addicted to social media. Surrealism attracts the attention of its audience with bright colors that do not exist in the world. And Instagram attracts the attention of viewers with addiction. Many teens in America check their social media accounts each hour of the day.
With this project, we hope to provoke both emotion and critical thought in our viewers. Surrealism was an art movement where artists took their inner emotional dream world and created visual representations of that state. Surrealism was meant to have no meaning besides what the artist was “feeling at the moment”. We wanted to bring Surrealism and Instagram together to question the world we live in.
Are we living in a dream world?
B.M. & J.Q.
Destruction of the Environment
We have created a piece inspired by the Environmental Art movement to emphasize the beauty of nature. Our project puts a twist on Environmental Art with computer programming to show the human impact on the environment. We show a natural environment destroyed by factories, oil rigs, and construction sites.
As you walk through our program, you will be able to see the ways human life destroys the environment. Many are wrapped up in their own lives and are unable to see the harm being done. Our piece comes into play to inspire our audience to not only become aware of the destruction to our environment, but to also make changes on their lives to help.
The character in our animation is a symbol of human beings and the darkness human life brings to the world. Life is easy when you overlook pollution, industrialization, and deforestation,
We hope our audience walks away from our piece with a new perspective and inspiration to make a difference.
N.A. & D. M.
Guess the Pop Art!
Art is a universal language that is accessible to everyone. Pop Art began as a reaction to the rapid industrialization and introduction of consumerist culture of the world, post World War II. Pop Art pieces incorporate recognizable symbols to combine the mass culture into the fine arts. This culture has never left and is even more apparent today. Pop Art is an excellent way to archive history. It is important and incredibly useful to maintain pop culture through art. We argue that Pop Art is a valid art form and can be utilized in any time period. It is customizable to each generation.
We compare pop culture icons through the 20th and 21st centuries. With ideas from the past and new art creations we created, the audience is forced to only focus on the change in subject matter, and disregard any potential change in art style. As an example, Marilyn Monroe turns into Beyonce, Coca Cola glasses turn into different colored iPhone 7’s, and one of the several nameless blonds of the mid 1900’s turns into the unique and original Lady Gaga. The actual style of Pop Art still continues today. Pop Art grabs your attention with the bright colors and uses a familiar pop culture icon. Seeing a universally known and easily recognizable icon appeals to everyone, but seeing it in a fine art context is revolutionary.
Pop Art works as a living record of history, not just a form of expression. As long as there is pop culture, there will be Pop Art reflecting on and recording it. Pop culture can be recorded through Pop Art in numerous ways and take on many different forms, it can be a parody of a certain celebrity, a critique of a president, advertisement for a new product, or a tribute to a recently deceased activist. With two eras in our project we hope to appeal to the current generation, Generation Z, and to the Baby Boomers or Generation X’s. Pop Art not only conveys pop culture, but also expresses positive and/or negative societal emotion. The irony in the visual is that the left side of our screen, the “then” side, was a critique of American culture, and the right side, the “now” side, is a celebration of American culture.
What is one way a millennial could recognize older pop culture icons when they didn’t live through the era that they were popular in? By seeing them in Pop Art. What influences us the most is having lived through the 2000’s and 2010’s and represent the pop culture that we grew up with.
We want others to understand that art can be historical, not something to neglect. We are unwilling to discuss why we chose to include Obama instead of President Trump because we don’t want to offend any of his supporters. This project isn’t necessarily meant to have a political meaning. It is an appreciation for the aesthetics of Pop Art and a demonstration of its importance and usefulness throughout time.
D.R. & N.M.
The Heart of the Chicano Movement: Then and Now
Chicano Art was the core of a movement that united a community and empowered the people to receive the recognition they, as Chicano’s deserved. Aztec and Catholic imagery, along with lifelike human figures, gave Chicanos the context to their history that schools and books lacked. This movement is a prime example where art and politics can come together to be the voice of a message. With all the worry of what will become of the United States, it is important to look back at the many changes and successes Chicano art lead to during its prime. If we mimic these ideas then perhaps bad situations can be turned into something beautiful!
Our focus was Chicano Park because it was the ultimate finish to the Chicano Rights Movement. Chicano art was incorporated by using aztec symbols and colors of red, orange, and blue. Since the murals in Chicano Park explain the history of the movement, we decided to display our project in a similar fashion. Parts of the movement we incorporated explain what the community once to looked like along with the catholic religion, protests, and our own prediction of the future. We include text from real posters used in the movement such as Students Fight 187; 187 was a proposition posted so that undocumented people, or so called “aliens”, would not be able to go to public schools. Our code incorporates Chicano culture such as music, what the neighborhood looked like, and a mural that signifies the unity they once had and will always have.
We based the “now” part of the project on the fear and predictions of the expansion of the wall. There have been many protests, anger and overall fear with what the future will look like. These emotions we feel represent blatant racism towards the Mexican culture. These are the same emotions Chicano’s felt when their homes were replaced with the Coronado bridge. Our project asks the viewer to create the mural “Corazon Aztlan”, which stands for unity in our community.
The idea of modernizing Chicano art and telling this specific story stems from our wish that, when the audience sees this piece, they will adopt a similar mentality of always fighting for the recognition they deserve.
We will not let anything stand in our way, not a wall, not a bridge. By adopting the same mentality as the community members of Chicano Park or the Chicano movement as whole, we feel that there is always a need to create beauty and make change in the horrible situations we are placed in.
C.S.A. & E.M.
The purpose of our project is to allow the user to step in the shoes of a modern day graffiti artist. We hope to show others who may be afraid of graffiti that it is not simply an illegal activity. It is an art form. In most instances, it is an artistic standpoint young people take to stand up to injustice. Graffiti gives those who are marginalized a voice. Our work seeks to reveal a different side of graffiti which is not just writing on a wall, there is always a deeper meaning.
Graffiti started with a younger generation expressing their views and opinions in the 1960s. In post Civil Rights America, the youth needed an outlet. That outlet was graffiti, and graffiti was illegal. As time passed, graffiti became associated with gangs and violence which placed a negative connotation on the art form. This continued for decades, and in the 1990s Graffiti reached its peak.
Today artists do the same, but the art movement does not carry as much of the negative image. The movement still gives gives those a voice to express themselves, and many murals are now commissioned and preserved.
Our final product is a coded application that lets the user express their own opinions in various urban settings.
In this project, I hope to bring awareness to a lesser known form of psychedelic art. I am showcasing two different, carefully coded artworks that are meant to induce certain emotions within you. I hoped to create something that would affect the viewer’s mood based on colors, patterns, movements, and the focus level.
Many associate color with emotion. Blue is almost always, well, blue. In this case, I took certain colors I associate with different emotions, and created patterns to trigger viewer emotion.
My own spirituality influenced my work. I meditate and believe meditation can give you cathartic experiences, that can be compared to psychedelic experiences. Meditation practitioners assert that certain colors, patterns, and sounds can be used to manifest life goals or desires.
This can be looked at in many ways, but I hope to open minds to what this category of psychedelia can achieve.
V.S. & V.S.
Harlem Renaissance Aftershock
This piece is meant to illustrate the impact of African American life and creativity on U.S. culture. We intend to show this message with the music and art from the Harlem Renaissance to illustrate the importance of cultural expression.
The Harlem Renaissance took place in Harlem New York and was an art movement primarily focused on the growth of the Black community that moved from the South to the North. Many African Americans ended up finding a safe haven within Harlem. With this new unrestricted Black population, many art forms were conceived from the minds and hearts of African American citizens.
We created a piece where each slide is a collage of images that represent an artistic product of the Renaissance era and beyond. We have a total of eight slides in our project and each slide represents one artistic aspect and how it was influenced by the previous. The first slide depicts a black figure pulling chains up a mountain towards a portal. This is meant to represent the oppression of the Black population prior to the Harlem Renaissance. Once he passes through the portal you will begin your journey through centuries of African American creativity, and question what is next.
What do you think is next?
T.M. & C.J.
Illusion in Film
We created a virtual museum with the artworks of Optical artists to show how Op art advanced alongside technology. These Op art works are from different years throughout time and we chose them to illustrate the effects of Optical Illusions, while also trying to relate aspects of Op Art to methods of modern day art.
Our project begins by showcasing the illusions of Op Art through a virtual museum. After the viewer experiences the museum of Op art, the code transitions to a TV screen which points to the ways we experience the illusion of film.
We focused on film and how the use of CGI tricks the mind to believe things that are false, instead of tricking the eye with illusions. Our message is that Op Art still exists, but not only as a form of art for the eye, but as a form that actually tricks the mind.
One of our biggest influences was being able to grow up and see countless films that were portraying false characters and false settings. We simply want people to see the connections we made between art and media.
We created this project to ask viewers to think critically about the ways film and media trick the mind. If CGI can trick our minds in films, what is the media capable of?