ABOUT THE PROJECT
LISTING – http://carterdjohnson.tumblr.com:
This online project takes its title from two sources: first, and most obvious, in the sense in which an item is to become entered in a catalog with a selling price, such as the “listings” for automobiles or real estate in a newspaper; and, second, in the sense of deviating from vertical, or tilting to one side as a result of an unbalanced load (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/list).
Various promotional websites and apps that present real estate listings are touted as invaluable tools so that consumers may make informed investment decisions based on a vast array of data. Not only are textual descriptions, photos, and sometimes video tours related to the spaces for rent, lease, or sale available on these sites; but geographical data, educational data, neighborhood data, and crime statistics are among the additional information present for each home or apartment listing.
The floor plan, however, is the most efficient communicator of information. It conveys the most information about the size and scale of the spaces and their relationship to each other, and to an imagined body that might occupy them. It does so with an apparent lack of bias, with complete objectivity. Such drawings, thus constituting the spaces as primarily Euclidean in nature, erase context with the idea of promoting a clearer understanding of physical space, with the specific intention to conceal at least as much as they reveal.
However, as the typical plan shuts out the rest of the world, presenting only imagined spaces, it also insulates and isolates them from nature, completely separating them from the surrounding environment and any notion of a lived context. With the graphics free of the clutter, wear, tear, dust, mold, or mildew in any ordinary home, the spaces are represented as idealized and pristine. As such, they are not mere windows to the future occupation of a lovely home. They do not merely represent the various domestic spaces, but in their use of such a form become more like signs, referential to something additional.
When considering this form of representation, we must bear in mind its tectonics (to borrow an architectural term which refers to building and construction). In other words, we must consider what it is made of and how it is made. In short, they are drawings using an architectural system of conventions; but they exist as digital graphics present on promotional websites for the financial interests of real estate developers and agencies. Instead of blank representations of domestic spaces, they thus represent the conjunction of at least three systems of signification: the architectural, the digital, and the financial.
By adjusting these graphics and making present all three systems – abstracting them further, and blocking up the “living spaces” with black pixels – I wish to interrogate their sole intent of promoting an imagined occupation. The large gray and mostly black squares present the technical construction of the image as built up by an accumulation of pixels, not only further abstracting and flattening the compositions, but partially blurring their nature. The undetermined scale of the images relative to each other or anything else; the figure/ground relationships between the gray-scale pixels and the white areas within, around, and infiltrating between the individual pixels; the square form of the composition emphasizing the uncertainty as to which is dominant, the white or the black; and the proliferation and repetition of these images (6 postings per week) all suggest the arbitrariness and undetermined nature of the references of these graphics. Furthermore, the unusually large dollar figures below each image, also appearing as arbitrary, suggests what may be at stake as well as a detachment of use-value from commercial value.
What interests me in these images is the juxtaposition of digital mediation with their apparent practical purpose of the images, their multiplicity and immateriality, a complete absence of any kind of mark-making process, and how all of these work together to affect their value.
- Digital Graphics:
Pixels are the individual units that make up all internet and digital graphics present on websites. A pixel is a tiny square of color and/or gray-scale value; and typically, any image contains thousands, if not millions, of them. Each pixel has its corresponding color or value: only one single color may fill the entire pixel.In a digital environment such as the internet and on websites, numerical values indicate color: each color has its own uniquely corresponding numerical value. These numbers are not randomly distributed, but lie in a saturation scale known as the RGB (red/green/blue) color scale, in which any possible color may be derived by some combination of red, green, and blue. In this system, a purely and fully saturated red hue, for example, has the maximum value possible for red, and the minimum value possible for both green and blue. 255 is the maximum possible value and 0 (zero) is the minimum possible value. Red thus has as its RGB value, 255, 0, 0.There are nearly 17,000,000 possible colors (256 * 256 * 256) available in the RGB color system; however, if an image is without color and in gray-scale (such as the ones that I am posting here), then there are only 256 possible values (0 – 255), each corresponding to black (0), white (255), or some shade of gray (all other values).To the computer, all pixels are created equally, whether they be in the far corner of an image, or directly in the center of it; whether completely black and shrouded in shadows and darkness, or brightly colored directly in the the focal point. Each is merely another block of color, just a number mapped onto the gridded rectangular space that makes up the image.Digital graphics are presented in webpages at 72 pixels per inch (ppi).
All images are built by the accumulation of these pixels which are usually (ideally) not evident to the casual viewing eye. Typically, we cannot see how the image is constructed: we only see the group of pixels as a whole, together. The physiology of our eyes and brains do the job of uniting the pixels into a recognizable image. One colored square after another is lined up and stacked up like bricks to create an image for the eyes of the viewer to consume.
- Architectural Drawings: All architects rely on visual imagery and a particular set of drawing conventions to convey the variety of function(s) of a building or space and its spatial organization. A floor plan, for example, is a diagram, an abstracted representation of a particular floor of a building or space and its relation to various architectural features such as doors or window openings, walls, columns, or stairs.Architects, engineers, designers, and technicians create such diagrams for a variety of reasons such as: a plan of a stage in a theatrical production that the actors or dancers follow so as to understand their relationship to the entire space and the audience; a plan handed out to potential home-buyers so that they may begin to imagine occupation by planning potential uses of the various spaces and possible arrangement of furnishings; or a plan that is a part of a more detailed set of legal documents in which an architect may visually represent the technicalities of construction to the individuals who are contracted to build the structure(s).In these diagrams, not only are spatial and functional relationships important between and among the spaces depicted in plan drawings; so are such relationships as they exist between space and the body. Scale references, therefore, are key to understanding how a body might occupy the spaces.At their essence, all architectural drawings are used to convey actual or imagined information so as to construct some new form of reality: a stage production, a building, a sale.
- Distribution, Marketing, and Promotion: The primary activity of the internet in purely technological terms is the distribution and exchange of information. Computers are computation machines, and the internet is a network of computers. Data, therefore, drives the internet: textual data in the form of email exchanges, graphic data in the form of images posted on social networking sites, audio data distributed by music sites, or video data from sites like Youtube, Vimeo, or porn sites. Even utilities such as Skype provide for the interchange of textual, audio, and video data.Nevertheless, it is individuals who direct and initiate such distribution and exchange activities. The computer terminals and the network of computers known as the internet are nothing but powerful tools that individuals and groups of individuals direct and control. As such, it is insufficient to describe computer and internet activity in purely technological terms. To do so does not encompass the driving forces behind such activities or the asymmetrical use of these tools.Much if not most of internet activity is commercial activity; commercial support activities such as business intranets and emails; or commerce related activities such as advertising, marketing, and promotion. Corporate and large business enterprises undertake the bulk of these kinds of activities. The proliferation of advertising and promotional imagery on the internet is but one suggestion of this fact. Remarkably, real estate, banking, finance, and insurance account for nearly 20% of the US overall GDP (http://www.economicpopulist.org/content/gdp-industry-2012-5511), so it is not a stretch to extrapolate that a large portion of internet activity is centered around these interrelated industries.This sector of the economy is large enough to drive the economy as a whole in one direction or another. Not only is it a large portion, but it underwrites almost everything else as well. The last six years bear witness to this. When it falters or fails, so does the rest of the economy; and because of this, the economic and political power that these industries wield is vast.Furthermore, when one considers the enormous government bailout, and the near absence of criminal charges that have resulted from the various investigations into the illegal activities in these industries which led to the financial crisis, one must wonder to which side do these images lean, and what kind of loads do they bear.
Phase 2: randomized color derivation