Thesis: Graphics and imagery range in an enormous amount of diversity. From realism to abstraction, we find that both have a very powerful impact. Within these two terms, one will find objectivity versus subjectivity. A view of truth and reality opposed to experience and emotion. Does one surpass the other? For my project, I intend to focus on the impact of imagery through the use of Photography and digital manipulation to engage the viewer in varying ways.
While finishing my mid semester presentation, I felt I still had questions that needed to be answered. Conceptually, I wanted to portray the big picture. By doing so, I found myself asking important questions like who’s watching us and in what ways are they doing so, and on the flip-side, who’s attempting to stop it and stand up for our citizens? From performing my research I came across, of course, the NSA (national security agency). The NSA is a major player in all things privacy and invading it. From there, I chose to look up programs in which the NSA does so, such as: Optic Nerve, PRISM, and X-KEYSCORE. These elements are something we are all currently going through (and may not even know it) and I wanted to incorporate these elements into my poster.
Ultimately, I decided as a whole, this poster would be made up of two posters merged into one: the NSA on top, and the key opposers on bottom. I also wanted to incorporate quotes from from people on both sides of the spectrum in relation to this very issue.
After researching the NSA, I wanted to research the opposers to the NSA and the actions they are taking. This led me to two key players, the hacker group Anonymous and famous whistleblower Edward Snowden. Anonymous is a more radical group, taking on many issues they disapprove of, and the famous Snowden who gave up the NSA and their secrets. On my poster I wanted to merge these two identities into one. My final product is shown here:
I chose to incorporate elements like the NSA logo, the PRISM logo, and even a webcam in spirit of the Optic Nerve program. Then, from this, I wanted to go more in depth with the imagery and from all of this research it felt as though the NSA is the puppet master and we are the puppets; they are controlling and many of us are merely followers. On the bottom half was where I chose the image of Edward Snowden as well as the Guy Fawkes mask (worn by Anonymous). These people are cutting the strings in which we are being held by. They are giving us the information in order for us to make a change. For all of these elements combined, I chose to work with a lot of blending modes in Photoshop. To me, these allow for a more dynamic and interesting combination of imagery, in which I believe I achieved.
After finishing the poster, I felt like I wasn’t quite finished. I was not done with this topic and I wanted to expand it further, so I chose to continue my research. In doing so, I came across certain videos that I felt would speak to an audience about this situation. Sometimes words speak more to an audience than just imagery. The video seems to put this situation into a more realistic perspective of what is happening around us. I decided to make my own video in Premiere and combine these different videos, which I found inspiring, as a sort of montage. For the audience to access this video, I put a QR code on the poster. I took clips from an anonymous video, the hacker wars trailer, audio from v for vendetta, and a clip from an Edward Snowden video. All of these elements combined allow for a deeper insight into this crucial issue of privacy.
Finally, where do these images belong? My first thought was in a gallery setting; mounted on a wall in a crisp, clean environment. It’s almost ironic for these pieces to be in such a place due to the gravity of the situation and how it is not so clean and crisp, yet contaminated and corrupt. This may make for an interesting setting for these pieces to live in, but I do not think this is best. I decide to take note of how street artists work. Their work belongs in the streets and to the people, and I think this, along with my other posters, should do the same. As a student, and a silent radical of sorts, I do not think it is in the best interest for me to put my work on a random building (especially due to legality), so I decided to bring my poster in Photoshop and superimpose it onto a wall:
To superimpose this image, I started out using a blending mode and then using the perspective function in Photoshop. It was a little difficult to work with in order to get the right angle, but I think I did a decent job on it. I didn’t want to pick an image of a wall straight on because I wanted more of a challenge. Also, I duplicated the image and erased certain areas in order to make it seem as though the poster had been there for a while.
Overall, I believe I achieved the goal of my thesis. To answer the question in my thesis, I would have to say that realism and abstraction do not surpass each other, yet assist one another. It’s interesting to note that before doing this project I believed that the two terms were so different. While one had subjectivity, the other had objectivity. I do not believe this any longer. I believe the lines are blurred between the two. An image may appear to be depicting truth and reality, yet I think this is how it is interpreted. For example, the truth and reality stems from an experience or emotion. For example, a photograph may seem objective, but put in the right context, it can have a serious emotional tones.
This project allowed me to finish off my career here at Penn State Abington strong. I’ve realized it’s important to question things and not merely accept things for what they are, and really pay attention to what is happening in the world around us, and most importantly, what is effecting you. It is also important to recognize those people willing to stand up for our rights and freedoms. I do not believe that I will take such radical steps in hopes to change our society, but merely displaying the knowledge is a step in the right direction.