December 4, 2016
Digital media can be defines as digitized content that can be transmitted over the internet or computer networks, this can include text, audio, video, and graphics. This means that news from a TV network, newspaper, magazine, etc. that is presented on a website or blog can fall into this category. The wonderful thing about digital media is that many artists no matter their background can incorporate digital media into their own works. Two artists that I would like to focus on to better help give an explanation of digital media are Bill Brand and Banksy. Right away the name Banksy might come off, as a bit of a surprise considering that he is mostly known for his graffiti works, however there is more to some of his works than meets the eye.
Bill Brand is a video artist who was born in 1949 in Rochester, New York. His films and videos were first shown at the Anthology Film Archives in New York City in 1973, and have since been screened in the United States and around the world in museums, independent film showcases, colleges and universities, and even on television. He has been featured at major film festivals including the Berlin International Film Festival, New Directors/ New Films Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, and the Rotterdam Film Festival. He was asked, “What kind of source material, what types of film or genres of film and gauges have you been working with primarily, in terms of preservation? (Frye 216)”, during an interview with Brian Frye, to which he responded, “My own films made on the optical printer are from 16mm reversal camera originals. I don't work from negative in the projector end” (Frye 216). One of his films that includes the use of 16mm film was his work, ‘Moment’. Moment is a 16mm black and white film work that lasts twenty-three and a half minutes, and it was introduced in 1972. When I first watched the work I did not read the description and did not know what to expect. Now when the film starts it almost seems like it is not going to be an interesting piece at all up until what seems like reversed audio comes in and you as a spectator start to gain more of an interest. However after watching the same sequence over and over you think to yourself I am not going to sit here and watch twenty more minutes of this, yet little changes start occurring in the film and the sequences start to change, little by little the film is starts to more into less of a video and more of a frame ‘slideshow’ in a way. Now what I mean by that is that every frame used for the film becomes visible. I can’t say why, but as the film reached the end I started feeling uneasy, I did not like the fact that I could see every frame, it reminded me of a bad Internet connection or losing cable signal due to a storm. Bill Brand description of the piece goes as follows. As the film starts we see a view of a gas station, behind a multi-paneled tire ad display. In the first two to three minutes, or so, a simple series of ordinary gas station events is seen intermittently through the opening display. This sequence was then divided and rearranged seven times in reverse order. Each time the divisions are greater in number (smaller in size) until finally the film appears to move smoothly backwards, divided by a single frame. The inspiration for the film as well as the title is derived from information theory where a 'moment' is defined as the shortest duration at which no distinction can be made between units of information. This work is a demonstration and exploration of the line between human information and machine information. It dynamically reveals film's basic unit, the frame.
The second selected artist is Banksy; Banksy is an England-based graffiti artist, political activist, and film director of unverified identity. His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humor with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique. His works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world. Banksy displays his art on publicly visible surfaces such as walls and self-built physical prop pieces. Now all of this does not seem like he is a digital media artist whatsoever yet I will talk about not one but two works that say otherwise. The first work does not really have a title since it is a graffiti piece, yet it’s a graffiti piece with a twist. He painted the piece across the street from the French Embassy in Knightsbridge. The main subject of the piece is Cosette from Les Miserables, who is crying from the use of tear gas. This piece is supposed to criticize the French government and their use of tear gas in refugee camps. Now what makes this a digital media piece is a simple QR code. That’s right this work has a QR code to the left of the work, that once scanned takes you to a video of tear gas being used in a camp in Calais. This work brings the issues to life and directly to you, to everyone who walks down this street in Knightsbridge and sees this work. It makes the subject matter real; it makes you question right and wrong and whether or not you have the power to make a difference. The second Banksy piece I would like to talk about is his video titled ‘Rebel Rocket Attack’. This video was released on YouTube where it shortly racked up millions of views in no time. In the video we see a rebel fighter aiming to the skies with a rocket launcher, after a few seconds he fires the weapon and we see the trail of smoke being left behind by the rocket as it propels itself to its target. Once it hits its target the ‘aircraft’ comes falling down and crashes right in front of them, disturbing the images a bit then once the image regains clarity we see that the aircraft is really Dumbo the Disney character. As Dumbo is slowly losing his life we see a little boy walk up to the injured elephant, then turn around and kick the man holding the rocket straight in the shin, as if the boy was angry that they killed a beloved cartoon character. In an article written by Liam O’ Brien, many Commenters believe the clip reflects the way we've been granted an insight into the Syrian conflict through videos uploaded onto the Internet. Since the term commenters came up the comments on the YouTube video are absurd. These comments are probably more shocking than the video itself. People commenting asking if it’s fake, others quick to call it fake with the help of an exclamation mark, while others seem to critique the quality of the “terrorists” cameras. Banksy turned to one of the most used video websites on the Internet to release his work and yet the amount of ignorance to follow is astronomical. Its almost as if he wasn’t intending this piece to criticize Syrian issues but the issues faced on the Internet. The comments clearly show it in this case.
The biggest difference between these two artists right off the bat is the use of mediums. While one is strictly a video artist the other is a graffiti artist who also incorporates video and digital media aspects into his works, another thing to notice is the target audience, Bill Brand mainly has his work installed in galleries while Banksy’s audience is anyone who lives in a city or walks passed a certain wall. Banksy is noticeably a more recognizable artist than Bill Brand and his subject matter seems to drive a bigger meaning than the work of Bill Brand. Yes Brand is making a connection between man and machine Banksy is using everyday issues as subject matter, issues that relate to every spectator, issues that need solutions. All in all both of these artists were interesting to research and learn more about and while both of them come from different backgrounds we can clearly see them both fall under the digital media category.
"Banksy and Digital Art – Making It and Saving It." Digital Shakespeares. AJ+, 08 July
2016. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
Brand, Jo. "Moment | Bill Brand." Moment | Bill Brand. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
Frye, Brian, and Bill Brand. “The Accidental Preservationist: An Interview with Bill
Brand.” Film History, vol. 15, no. 2, 2003, pp. 214–219. www.jstor.org/stable/3815513.
Ruggiero, Lucia. "Are Digital Spaces the New Graffiti Walls?" Digital Meets Culture.
N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Dec. 2016.
Timoleon Wilkins. “At This Moment.” The Moving Image: The Journal of the
Association of Moving Image Archivists, vol. 12, no. 1, 2012, pp. 95–97.