6. Crit 2 reflection

So I presented the work I’ve been doing in Thesis so far which was about my topic, Reconstructing History through memes. I presented my entire journey till now from how I got motivated to start working on this and my first prototype, which was the blog series. I moved on to present my evolution of ideas and concepts and presented my second prototype, the comic strip about machines gossiping about humans. From here I discussed how I wanted to bring Technology into my concept by the insertion of the idea of Machines writing about Machines. And presented my third and fourth prototype which were my ML models trained on different data sets, and being fed texts and excerpts from memes. Finally I moved on to discuss my Thesis concept which was a narrative on this topic.

Anezka’s critic was very helpful. She started by talking about some disconnects in my presentation, which I thought were arising from me working with similar yet different concepts. She said that the idea of memes is complicated and when I’m using memes directly, I’m not defining what those memes are or what they represent. Are these historical memes, are these digital memes, are these about a particular topic? I think going ahead, I have to answer these questions and provide a restriction to the memes that I’m using. Next she also asked me to check out the history aspect of the project. When I’m using a word like reconstructing history, I need more insights into how history is formed. How are historical artifacts and how historians go about writing history? She suggested that I look into my own culture’s history and take inspiration from that. She also suggested looking into the history of memes, because memes also have a history behind them.

Another suggestion that she gave was about my first prototype. She said that the writing aspect of the prototype was quite strong and I should follow up on that. The witty nature of my writings provided a good and entertaining platform to work on that, so I should definitely keep working on that. I found this critic to be quite enlightening as I tend to go astray in the wish of constantly trying out new concepts. She also had similar thoughts on my second prototype in which she loved the wit as well as the art. Her thoughts were that going ahead I should think strongly of keeping all these elements in my project and try to build something around that. These prototypes show my talents as an artist and writer as well as a funny side to my work, and I should try and capitalize on that.

When I said that I’ve been trying to limit my memes about the Covid-19 pandemic, and maybe keep my vision narrow, she also suggested that I look into the 1916 pandemic and see if there were memes about that. She also emphasized the importance of humor in such trying times, saying that if we were not laughing at the current situation we would probably go into depression. Human beings find humor in everything, every situation, that is an essential part of their creativity. My thoughts here were that I should include this aspect in my narration, or as an argument to support my project concept.

She also gave me a precedent to look into which was a work done by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin called Listening Post. It was a Real-Time Data Responsive Environment that they built by capturing words said by people, processing and displaying them on a kind of display setup. Something like this might also be an interesting approach from a technical perspective which is worth looking into.

Finally she talked about the technical part of my project, specifically the data models that I was building. She said that these models are like a blank canvas, they’ll take up whatever shape I feed them, so I need to be careful in how I approach this. She talked about how this was one of the disconnects which she felt in my proposal. What I felt over here was that I had already done some interesting work before building these models, and that I should somehow either make the models more relevant or try to engage them more with my concept. It seems with the addition of the technical aspect to my project, my previous work went into a hindsight, which should not be the case. So I believe that as next steps, I’m going to figure out more from a conceptual perspective how to take all these things into consideration.

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