The majority of the images we consume online are bitmaps, rather than vector graphics. Even a Google Images search for vector graphics will display bitmap images. A bitmap is a horizontal and vertical orientation of coloured pixels, whereas a vector graphic is a path, defined by start and end points. It is in this way that a vector graphic does not lose its image quality when it is resized – it is not made up of a specific number of dots, which when stretched become pixelated.
This exercise required us to remix bitmap and vector images that we were able to find on the internet. Once I had obtained a bitmap image (in this case the face of a celebrity), I opened it in Adobe Photoshop and selected one half of the face. After horizontally flipping the selection, the portraits were given the effect of being symmetrical. It is the belief of artist Alex John Beck in his work Both Sides Of (2013), that “a perfectly symmetrical face is the most beautiful.” Whilst Beck’s artwork has proven his theory, and further, has identified, for him, the character the face embodies, viewing an individual with a perfectly symmetrical face can be unsettling. Once I had created perfectly symmetrical faces in my celebrity portraits, I significantly increased the contrast of the images and slightly altered the brightness to give my collages the effect of being a vector image themselves. The vector graphic I opted to work with is an image of a bee. Appropriately entitled Queen Bee, I aimed to create a small series of vector styled bitmap collages which reflected the way in which the media portrays remix culture to consumers, and in turn how that depiction ultimately affects our perceptions of these individual celebrities.
My first collage piece depicts Taylor Swift with the bee graphic covering her mouth and leading the word: reformed. The acclaimed singer/songwriter has always be the subject of criticism in the media for her good girl image, paired with music that “calls out” the negative instances in her love life. The release of Swift’s latest album 1989 (which is entirely composed of pop tracks, rather than country), and more specifically the music video to Bad Blood, however, have seen the media paint the artist in a more positive light – as reformed. This media portrayal of Taylor Swift has allowed for consumers to perceived her as a positive figurehead of and advocate for the music industry, and further, has allowed for her to be viewed as a strong and successful female and not as someone with a “long list of ex-lovers”. A perception is easily changed with a music video that is a remix of common sci-fi and action film tropes itself.
I chose the portrait of Lady Gaga as my next collage, pairing it with the bee graphic on her forehead and the word: original. Lady Gaga has maintained a certain and incredibly outstanding individuality about her music and fashion statements throughout her career. Consumers, whilst undeniably aware and in awe of the artist’s persona, are frequently swayed by the media to hold the perception that she is not as original as we would like to believe. When Lady Gaga’s song Born This Way was released in 2011, after praising the inspirational qualities of the song, the media quickly encouraged consumers to become interested in the feud Madonna wanted to broadcast over the similarities it shared with her 1990’s hit Vogue. A perception is easily changed when two songs are seemingly familiar to one another.
My final collage piece depicts Nicki Minaj with the same bee graphic and the word: angry. Minaj’s track Anaconda from her album The Pink Print, heavily samples Sir Mix-a-Lot’s 1992 song Baby Got Back and is a clear example of remix culture. In my depiction of the artist, however, I have included the word angry because the media quickly turned Nicki Minaj’s commentary as to the state of her record – and other artists falling within the similar genre as her – not being nominated for awards into a Twitter war. The celebrities involved in this wrongly conceived Twitter war did not intend for any comments to be made as they were – it was a misunderstanding but this did not stop consumers from readily defending and aggressively attacking each respective artist involved. A perception is easily changed when the media is able to manipulate the context of the artwork and comments made on the internet.