Artist: Brianna Meli
Media: fiber, video
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Werby Gallery
About the Artist
Brianna is an senior undergraduate student at CSULB in the School of Art Fiber Program obtaining her BFA. She is originally from Fullerton College but then transferred to CSULB. After graduating, she hopes to obtain her Masters in Library Science and include art somehow in her career. This exhibition is her take on the physical world versus the digital and the connections that come with it.
In the Marilyn-Werby Gallery, you will see two projections playing on the opposite sides of the walls, large hanging signs, and a chair covered in a cloth that is topped with a knitting needle that has cords bundled together to look like yarn. On the video side closest to the door, the woman in the video (aka the artist) is knitting the cords together with a table next to her to hold the other cords and her seeming more relaxed. In the other video, the artist is one in the same chair in the same location, but this time on her phone. Throughout the gallery there are many notifications sounds such as a ringing call or the whoosh of a text to represent how often many people are stuck to their phones. One little sound will make you want to check your phone and the cycle continues. Also in the gallery, I noticed that everything was very colorful and vibrant. From the cords to the quilt pattern on the sheet covering the chair, to the bright background of the location in the videos, to the bold lettering on the hanging banners.
The intent of Brianna’s exhibition is to express her inner turmoil of the physical world versus the digital world. As noted in the synopsis or introduction to the exhibit, she feels that if she were to truly disconnect from the digital world she would lose opportunities to go forward with her art and suffer from lost connections. Nowadays, most people are just a text away so if she threw her phone away, she would also lose the opportunity to see people more. When Brianna is on her phone she thinks to herself is she is being productive or just scrolling mindlessly. Something that this artist said that stuck out to me was that the phone is a tool that helps her. She does not let the phone make her a tool. She does acknowledge that there are positives to having a phone and it is logical and convenient to have one so she does not downright hate them, but questions their purpose sometimes. When friends are hanging out and just on their phones, it’s like what’s the point of coming together as one if we are not going to make a physical or emotional connection by being present? Brianna personally puts her phone away if she is with somebody she cares about to actually be there with them in that moment. Another thing that Brianna mentioned was that it is good to have awareness. By putting your phone down, you will notice the pole you are about to walk into or maybe even the crazy guy following you lol. All in all, when Brianna is not thoughtlessly on her phone without purpose, she feels more satisfied, wholesome, and content as a person.
Synthesis / My Experience
The picture above is actually me on a daily basis lol! Briana mentioned that being on your phone is so normalized and I absolutely agree with her. I have heard of a few instances where a guy in a coffee shop is just drinking coffee and doing nothing else and people were like “Whoah!” as if it was weird. Another instance is that many times, people (including myself) fake being on their phones just to look busy. Usually at a bus stop or something similar, everyone waiting will just be on their phones and I have heard from a friend that they just went on their phone too just to not look weird. This is how being on our phones is normalized today. Brianna also mentioned about her childhood versus today. Back then, even for myself, having fun and playing meant going outside and playing tag or handball with the other kids. I feel that the generation today mainly uses electronics for entertainment. I played A LOT of video games and whatnot when I was a kid too, but I did not have to be forced outside to get fresh air. I don’t think iPad’s and tablets alike are bad for children, however, there is a noticeable difference in the upbringing of kids due to technological advances. I appreciate that Brianna claimed that her exhibit was not meant to influence anyone, but to mostly express her inner thoughts on the matter through a creative outlet.