O’Neill Library serves as the perennial watering hole for Boston College students during this unwieldy final exam season. A yearning for summer conflicts viciously with the demands of exams and papers, resulting in a flurry of restless students slaving over their keyboards in each and every crevice of the library’s five levels.
Level One, however, captured more than just stress-charged students and an aura of willed focus this week. It acted as the home to the Art and Digital Technology Exhibit of May 2017, an event sponsored by the Art, Art History, and Film Departments as well as BC Libraries. The gallery showcased upwards of 150 excerpts from the final projects of students partaking in a studio art course taught by Karl Baden, a professor in the film studies program.
Through various compilations of media and text, the students aimed to craft unique design and art-oriented pieces that resembled book, magazine, and album covers as well as advertisements and posters. Using the basic tools of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, the students created several different interpretations from a few thematic prompts and mainly indulged in a postmodern slant on well-known media and media figures.
A myriad of pieces from the exhibit played with the iconic layout of Google’s homepage. One interpretation utilized a cartoon landscape of Winnie the Pooh and his friends, showing the yellow bear and Piglet as the “O”s in “Google” and inserting the entire scene within a speech bubble on a white background. The colorful image conveyed the imaginative powers that searching the internet can entail.
Another interpretation displayed the letters of Google within a primitive ocean landscape, with the “L” as the sail protruding from a boat on the horizon and a seagull resting on the “G.” Within the green- and blue-colored waves lives the search engine, expressing how the web is a vast sea of knowledge and possibility at our fingertips.
The re-working of iconic movie posters with a Jaws flair manifested another hot topic of the exhibit. One image showed the poster for the recent sensation and award-winner La La Land with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling dancing on the right and a gigantic shark devouring the lamp post traditionally lighting the couple’s scene, labeled as “Lala Jaws.” Another poster read “Jaws Up,” illustrating the balloon-elevated house whisking the Up characters away from the gaping mouth of the shark below.
The winner for most creative and and undoubtedly the most humorous of this genre had to be the Jaws-ified Mr. Bean movie poster in which the infamous silly man embodies the equally infamous sea creature, pointed teeth and all. Who knew that Mr. Bean could simultaneously delight and disturb? Well, anyone who’s watched Mr. Bean could actually reach this conclusion, which emphasizes the accuracy of what this digital manipulation offers.
Another umbrella topic was an advertisement for Absolut Vodka construed in various fashions. Everyone knows the label, and that white bold font was primarily maintained while the background was manipulated to fit the touch of each individual artist.
One picture presented “Absolut Lightning” with a white strike of lightning occupying the deep blue bottle on a white background while another highlighted “Absolut Paradise,” depicting the bottle on a tropical beach through a circular lens and showing the reflection of this image on a black backdrop. Such representations seem to hint at the culture established around drinking and party culture, one that promises the power of lightning or an escape into a more desired realm.
Other standouts included some poignant mockings of campaign posters. One visualized “Corinne 2020,” with a purple-infused picture of the latest blonde Bachelor star imposed on light blue, poking fun at how our current political leader arose from reality TV fame and criticizing how we as a society uphold pop culture so vehemently that we’ve blurred the lines between entertainment and politics. Another campaign poster assumed a technology stance, displaying “Olympics 2072” on a red planet emblazoned with craters resembling the five Olympic rings. This expressed how technology is developing so rapidly that the inhabiting of outer space by mankind and our customs is not so far out of reach.
A specific eye-catcher was the image of a plastic bottle of water pouring into a wine glass, in which the transparency of the water transformed into a bright scarlet liquid. The obvious allusion to is here manipulated in a clever way, merging the simplicity of the image
One subtle feature of the exhibit as a whole was its anonymous display of students’ work. Whether intentional or not, the nominal absence highlighted the feeling of stark contrast from reality that emanated from the pieces, stripping away the personal connection of a human behind the work and leaving the digital images to speak for themselves.
The overall atmosphere of the gallery space solidified the exhibit’s amateur candidness. Students occupied the scattered chairs and tables of the confined room throughout the day, equipped with their own digital devices and continuously filling the space with both the source of their media and the very tool for manipulating it.
Such a contrast of the physical reality against digital reality marked this exhibit as more than just some final project necessary to complete a course. It illustrated the power of the digital, a universal tool allowing the real to adapt to the creative inkling of any inspired individual.