The Midterm presentation of Grant Bianchi, Claudia Nader and Daniella Rodriguez.
The prevalence of drugs in pop culture is undeniable. From music videos to movies, tv shows and even print, the use of drugs and either the positive or negative implication of such actions are the focus of countless narratives in history. Even when not the main plot line, drugs can enter a narrative and disrupt progress, derail characters and affect the mood of a particular performance or media type. There is even comedic use of drug and drug effects in such movies as Pineapple Express. Regardless of the certain drug portrayed or effects it brings about, there is no denying the abundance of references and portrayals across the entire media landscape. By result, mainstream culture tends to not necessarily follow, but in a sense emulate, the experiences and highs the characters on-screen or on page are having. Even Jim Morrison, icon and drug leader in his own right, was convinced to take his first tab of acid after reading Huxley’s The Doors of Perception, and reading about the author’s trip on mescaline. It is perhaps a desire to expand one’s mind or perhaps a desire to be at least somewhat like one’s heroes, maybe even a mixture of the two, but regardless, the use of enhancers, depressants, psychedelics etc. are informed by and based upon changing one’s state and experiencing another. That experience is chased and coveted and in turn re portrayed in media only to re start and continue the cycle. That experience is also starkly varied depending on the drug and drug class of choice. Each chemical effects the brain and body differently and on top of that each singular person’s experience can change slightly from case to case. There is similarity but it is still unique every time. Like a piece of art, a drug experience is nuanced and diverse, but grounded in commonalities. With psychedelics there is a sense of euphoria and possibility. Amphetamines increase mental speed and give a feeling of invincibility. Depressants relax and wipe away the problems of the world.
The question is not necessarily what each drug does, but rather why each drug is done and what feeling the user is chasing. The question is also why would we want to portray this topic? Unlike other art forms, glitch gives us a new way to approach projects and also a new way to express feelings and emotions. It also happens to be the perfect tool when it comes to expressing the distortions in reality that drugs bring about. Through the lens of glitch one’s perspective can be altered and the feeling of first person vision and therefore first person reality distortion can be achieved and controlled. Then, by merging the glitch with the pop culture scenes that portray each experience, a deeper look can be taken at the meaning behind each use of a drug in pop culture and also at the societal portrayal of effects related to each use. It can also be viewed as somewhat competition too. Each medium, the book, the song, the screen and so on, use different methods to illustrate the use of drugs, each being unique. Strong in some aspects and lacking in others, it will be intriguing to see how glitch can show the effects in a new and multidimensional way (through both visual and aural distortion), in addition to the ways in which it may be improved. Finally, in some way we hope this is at least partly educational. We aren’t advocating the use or glamorizing it but rather illustrating the mindset each one puts an individual in. Some mindsets will most likely not be portrayed in a good light, as many side effects are negatives. By showing both the positive and negative implications, we hopefully delineate a true image of each experience to in turn let the viewer decide what seems too extreme or contrarily to pleasurable for them or their liking. And moreover maybe relate the mindset shown to a memory or place they have once been.
As mentioned before, each trip or experience is unique and therefore reducing a class of drugs to a few images/videos/gifs and projecting our assumed feelings with a glitch may seem narrow, but luckily while each is unique, overall qualities and feelings remain generally constant along classification lines. Therefore, we are able to take those shared emotional responses and take a deeper look at how they connect differing drugs to each other and an overall classification while also contrasting the differing results of conflicting classes.
The final reason of exploring this topic is also the most obvious. The prospect of taking something and changing one’s experience is just as exciting and thrilling as it is terrifying and dangerous, and to many that exhilaration is the entire reason to do it. The exploration of that removal from one’s self is fascinating and is a main reason why people continue to experiment with different drugs. Regardless of the reason, it happens, and studying it can only illuminate patterns and shared experiences. Just like glitch, it is another way at looking at the world. Another way of bending reality.
Our plan is to first classify the many differing types of drugs and group them together along those classes, aiming to find the most prevalent in pop culture along with the most easily portrayed through glitch. After that we are going to go through image and media gathering by looking through the most famous examples of drug use, along with images (personal and web-based) that also can represent each experience. Next, and most importantly, the glitch. This is where the mood we are trying to impose is created and layered onto the various images/videos/gifs to elicit the emotional response specific to each drug. Hopefully by merging images that are already related to drug use with glitches intended to mirror the effects of drug use, the result will be a new interpretation of the decade old “trip sequence.”
Claudia, Daniella and I hope to work concurrently and as a unit of three rather than three individuals, so we plan on doing as much as we can together and as a group. Saying that, for the sake of time and strengths Claudia and Daniella will focus on the image acquisition and mood layout while I focus on the aural landscape. Like with the images, the sounds will be a mixture of found, used and personally recorded/acquired material. The glitching will involve programs such as audacity, adobe Photoshop, given codes and image glitch. The overall product however, which is planned to be a video presentation, will either be approved by all of us or none of us. We hope our three different but common styles will mesh well together and form a final product reflective of our experiences and our artistic wishes.
Our full Moodboard Representation of the images/feelings we wish to convey:
Daniella Rodriguez Paper:
The rise of technology has not only created a glitch in machine’s function, but a glitch in human function as well. In an age where every need can be catered by the touch of a fingertip, self-indulgence and instant gratification has taken over society. In an era where where everything is a profile in social media, drugs, alcohol, and sex have become recreational activities for the use of these online personas we have created. As a society, we have turned to mind altering substances to cope with the isolation society might cause. When reality is distorted, one can not really tell if the feelings the are feeling are truly correct.
Apps have facilitated the interaction between people and these activities. In a world where apps like grindr and tinder have made finding someone to have sex with faster and easier, it has become more acceptable to not grow attach to a sexual partner. This creates a detachment from an activity that should be loving and intimate. Glitching images that denote sex or love helps show the disassociation people have to sex. How it has become a commodity in society. One, that people abuse as much as drugs or alcohol. The easy access to sexual partners has has created a glitch in human function, as it goes
against what our brains are programmed to do. Biologically, sex is only for reproduction, not for pleasure, but when one can have it without having to reproduce, it is only being done for pleasure and gratification.
Addiction and addictive substance have always existed in society. Alcohol has always been present in society; every civilization had a form of alcohol; whether it was made of potatoes or wheat, alcohol has been altering humans brains from the beginning. Drugs that can be found in nature, like marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms, have been used since before the finding of the new world. Cigarettes were so common throughout most of the 20th century, they were allowed everywhere. Not only would a doctor smoke in front of a patient, when men took to the skies, cigarettes followed. LSD was discovered in a laboratory, and since then it has influence movements, generations, and the government to create supersoldiers. Sex has always been a part of evolution, but prostitution being one of the oldest professions speaks as to the demand for it as more than just procreation. Drugs and sex alter the function of the brain and perception of reality, creating a new and different experience to everyone that does them, every time they use it.
Glitches interrupt the function of the machines, music, or images that it is derived from. It signifies the imperfection of the machine, the “break from (one of) the protocolized data flows within a technological system” (The Glitch Studies Manifesto). Like glitches, addictive tendencies and behaviors lead to an interruption of the flow of
function. Things that are addictive cause the human brain to function differently from what it’s intended function is. When one suppressed their brain to a heavy amount of alcohol, memory loss can be experienced. And like a glitch that is cut to miss parts, one’s memory the morning after a heavy night of drinking might have some parts in black. LSD activates parts in the brains that would not usually function at the same time. Like some glitches in machines, it uses too much of its processing power and it overpowers the system. In a computer it’s with a glitch, while in a human brain is through the distortion of reality. Cigarettes on the other hand do not affect our perspectives, but ourselves. Though it creates some lightheadedness, cigarettes do not alter reality. They instead make us dependent to them. If someone gets addicted and then quits, their brain uses all its energy trying to prevent the body from giving in to the cravings.
We think of our brains as the hard drive of a computer. The thing that mainly keeps the machine (or body) functioning. If an arm is broken, then it can be mended. If a computer misses keys, they can be replaced. No computer powers up without a hard drive, and nobody functions without a brain. The moment it fails, we see it as a failure of the whole machine. This error of function is something that helps “remind us of the need for greater control” (Error, Noise, and Jam in New Media Cultures). Addiction is seen as human error because it’s one of the only time reason is not ruling the brain. When sex is the only thing in someone’s mind, every action they make will be towards gratifying that desire. Shrooms, though not addictive, influences the brain in a way that is seen as an
“escape of the predictable confines of information control.” Our brain’s operational logic, it’s ability to perceive reality and process our thoughts, changes with hallucigenics like shorts. Thus, the reaction one might have to it might be perceived as failure.
The last thing glitches and addictive behaviors have in common is their acceptance in the modern world. People have embraced the distortion of glitch and created in art. The same way many people have used their inspirations from drugs, especially hallucinogens, to create art. Some have used it to find the problems within themselves, and used them to fix them. Just how glitch alerts a system that it is malfunctioning and should be updated. Though, an excess of drugs, alcohol, and sex might not be the best for one’s body or brain, many agree than in moderation things like alcohol and sex can help with the pressure of life. Like everything that works continuously without a break, our brain sometimes might exhaust itself. Taking some time away from its normal function to ‘glitch out,’ allows the brain to mellow out and recharge. Although the abuse of drugs and alcohol is an illness and affects the brain,if used properly and moderately, they can provide the brain with a new perspective. Like a glitch, drugs have allowed us to modify our brains for new possibilities, the ones they create.
Our groups is planning on preparing an installation on addictive behaviors and substances. We will be glitching images of drugs, tobacco, and sex to show how they can damage our perception in reality once we become addicted to them. The images will be edited into a ‘PSA format’ style video. It is meant to poke fun at the extreme reaction older commercials had towards drugs. The video will be edited with glitch music to help portray the feeling each category should convey.
For the installation, I (Daniella) will be glitching image that relate to drugs and sex. The images can be of the drugs and actions themselves, or images represent the feelings they bring. For example, an image that shows me the person is drunk would be out of focused, and maybe blacked out in some parts. Someone on LSD would perceive the world as distorted, so I would glitch a familiar image, and make it unfamiliar. What the image shows will be changed based on the effect the drug has on the brain. This is to compare the effects of addictive substance with glitching. Glitching the images also allows them to be digested as more than just reflections of the world that we are used to; a world were sex and drugs have been normalized by television and social media. Instead, it shows them as a reflection of the effects it causes on our human functioning. By showing the glitched images of reality, to prove how our brains react to them, we are culture jamming the normalization of sex and the normalization of using drugs recreationally.
I will also be editing the video once the music and images are done. The images already show a big part of the message we are trying to send, but the music gives it a deeper level of denotation. People are not only going to be subjugated to the visual glitch of the effects, but of the sonic ones. The sounds will give meaning to the images they would have not been able to convey alone.