This week I’ve been enjoying playing around with learning coding and understanding how algorithms work. I’ve probably bitten off more than I can chew in terms of learning and understanding this whole new world of computing but with my Fiance studying Computing&IT it’s been a really valuable learning curve.
This week we’ve been encouraged to experiment and prototype our final piece that we will be finalising next week. Having changed my project vision last week I’ve been on catch up which has meant I’ve had to speed through some ideas to get to this final idea. For me, I wanted to show not only the progression of the project but also my personal progression with learning new skills. Below shows my experimentation with different media and ideas to figure out how my final piece will successfully demonstrate and communicate the solution to the question.
Coding & AfterEffects
I’m still fairly new at AfterEffects and I took this time to play around with text animation – something I’ve tried before in the past and not succeeded. I really wanted to express the coding as typing text – a visual representation of the speed at which a computer generates our interests and allocates certain stereotypes against the algorithms produced.
For me, this is a really simple visualisation of how computers “see” us – we are no longer individuals or humans but lists of words and algorithms that, at the end of the day, is all we are. I loved learning to create the typing effect on AfterEffects and for me it’s something I can definitely build on in the future.
This idea could definitely resonate with people and could absolutely be changed depending on the individual (my intention is to create a series with this “computer identity” crisis) – it could be really interesting to take other people’s “interests” that have been logged on Instagram and give people their simplified identity from a computer’s point of view. It really makes you stop and question the things you do online and your digital footprint.
I chose a black background to help the text stand out clearly – it also represents the moodboards from the previous week as the black background is an instant representation of both coding and algorithmic computing. It is also quite negative and aggressive which develops the initial feelings when viewing this piece of work. I chose the Courier New font as this is what is used when creating coding. I also used colours to make certain parts of the project stand out and have more of an effect.
The main thing that’s missing for this is the juxtaposition of the “person as a human”. I think this is vital part of my project and something I’m wanting to make clear – that beneath all this coding is an actual human, with no control over what websites see us as, realising that everything we do online is viewed and categorised. I think it needs a sense of “humanisation” to it and I will develop on that.
Tracing Paper & Portraits
Following the above experiment with AfterEffects, I felt that animation wasn’t the route I wanted to go down initially and I need to refocus on the final production. I was very keen to make this piece both tangible and yet foreign (in the sense of something you can touch and recognise but not necessarily understand immediately).
In terms of the final piece, it needs to represent each person’s individual list of “interests” that Instagram has logged from their search history, people they follow and ads they’ve clicked on. This list of “interests” is now the new identity for that person.
Therefore I feel it needs to be a combination of a representation of that person in the form of a portrait along with how the sites see us. Below are my initial scribbles as to how I feel this piece should look. I also want to create one for each person I evaluate and look into.
As you can see, I want to create something a person can touch or see in real life as opposed to something digital (which would take away from my intention of juxtaposition). I also want to combine the censorship element, something that has come to light during my research and something I wanted to add in as this is a really vital part of our Online Identity.
My initial experiment was to try using tracing paper over the printed coding we had created – from here, my plan was to print an image of me (as the experiment) onto the tracing paper and use a black marker to block out or redact certain words from the coding.
I then tried using a number of different pens and even paint to use as the redacting as you see on government documents. Sadly, neither of these worked and were dark enough to create the desired effect as you can see below.
I was also unable to print directly onto the tracing paper…
Back to the drawing board
Ok so I really love the idea of the booklet as above but it just can’t work with the materials I have. Therefore I will try to create a similar effect in a digital manner.
As the above pictures show I decided to write the coding into the Python programmer with the help of my other half – I then copied this into photoshop using templates I’d previously chosen. I was unable to replicate the tracing paper over the coding but I actually really like the almost aggressive nature of the black redacted parts against the softer background. The black and white imagery also reflects that we are all viewed the same.
I then focussed on the title of the series – I’ve always wanted to incorporate a computer shortcut or hidden meaning – whilst not so hidden, I love the combination of CTRL and the lower case lettering in Courier New. I played around with the title for a while before moving onto the composition of the photos and wording.
When coding is written, it’s started high up in the left hand corner with no indentation, it’s quite squashed and the formatting isn’t easy to follow. I wanted to reflect this but decided to add more paragraph spacing and lay it out so it’s more visually appealing.
Experimenting as a Series within a Book
After the success of completing one example of the online portfolio of a person, I realised it could swiftly become a complete series – all based around different people from around the world. Take a portrait of someone, along with their listed interests and create a series of depictions about each person. I’ve kept the colours just black and white for impact and to reflect the unambiguous nature of the way we’re viewed online.
I played about a lot with the title and subtitle and location of it on the front cover – I preferred the central layout but, as the computing expert told me, having it top left is more representative of how coding is laid out and used. I’d like to keep it as accurate as possible whilst also legible.
I really like the muted effect of this book – the dark cover and monotone images highlight the message I am trying to convey. It’s really representative of the moodboards I completed last week.
Experimenting with Poster Campaign
After realising the potential message I was putting across, I realised this could be a fantsatic campaign for awareness of our social media footprint and how it can affect our social and mental states. Looking further into this, the awareness of how marketing and websites take our information and only feedback to us the ads they think we want to see. This form of censorship means we don’t get to see immediately the information from unbiased sources, but in fact only information the social media sites choose to show us based on our list of “interests”…
It could be a really powerful way of promoting peoples awareness of the things the do and look at online and could help people understand that there is more beyond what social media allows them to see.