Pasztor, Erika Katalina | media artist
Budapest, Hungary
 
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MAN-KIND
constructing a new social role model of MAN | audiovisual installation [project concept]
 
work under development
 
 
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MAN-KIND
 

[I have a dog and I walk every day in the neighbouring streets and parks. Yesterday morning, on one of my regular walk I met three men after each others; while walking fast, all of them were busy to speak on their mobile phones.]

I started to think about this project about 3-4 month ago, when I found accidentally articles on the index.hu. It presented a survey initiated by one of the news portal's female columnist: she collected women's opinions about men and published it in an article. As a reaction she got tremendous notes from men, what was again published and so on . The whole topic is a sort of a hot in gutter presses all over the world. Even though a gutter press disfigures social situations by emphasizing arbitrary opinions to generate strong emotions in the readers, the truth is that there are lots of hidden tensions related to social roles and gender issues. The article on this site only the tip of the iceberg: we have to have more attention on this since we are all in a complex social transformation caused by global political, economical, technological and cultural changes.

Gender issues in media art mainly focusing on women, although the radical changes in social roles affect men significantly too, but now we have a less sensitive image of their vision and perception on this transformation. We know less and less what men think and how they construct their masculine identity, what kind of inner transformations they experience or percept in their own world, how they accommodate to the fast changing socio-political landscape and its always new challenges. What do they think about traditional male roles today or what kind of new roles are emerging in the context of knowledge industries where traditional man power - as physical dominancy - remains essential only in a few, less honoured social clusters?

Against the mainstreams of feminists, Elisabeth Badinter French feminist philosopher in her "Xy: On Masculine Identity" book (Columbia Press, 1995) states that man must be constructed and our 21st century might be the century of new man, a creation of a new social role model. Now, with this project I contribute to the research of this transitional period between the old and new masculine role model, between the old and new men. My project's aim is to show the diversity of this transition using our new tools and possibilities what technology provides.

The MAN-KIND project has two different basic phases or faces. In the first phase I plan to set up a research study in collaboration with social scientists (for instance at The Modernity PhD School directed by Zsolt Szijártó, University Pécs, Faculty of Humanities and Miklós Hadas sociologist, one of the most important representative of men studies in Hungary). During this research we develop a questionnaire and create the concept of sampling to conduct a survey. The survey will be a series of so called 'deep interviews' (personal audio interviews of appr. 40-50 minutes long) with selected men asking them the same questions and record their answers. The minimum number of samples for a representative survey is about 20 persons. I plan to make interview with 20-25 men. Getting the final picture, the selection method is crucial, since the combination of the interviewed persons has important effect on the global output messages.

In advanced I decided to choose a group of adult men without age and geographical limits active at the intersection of art, science and technology. My decision is based on the hypothesis that - following Elisabeth Badinter - the new man's "construction plane" might be placed somewhere in this intersection as well. Social role changes are strongly linked to social welfare situations therefore we might witness the same process in the developed countries all over the world in the similar social clusters. Thus we might conduct a research on international level based on personal social networks. The first people to interview will offer the second whom the first thinks have a similar as regards he will offer the third person to make an interview with that he thinks has a very different point of view. With this chain we can create an exiting network of diverse masculine identities. At the end, an interview book with the edited interviews might come out as a partial result of this phase.

 
 

The second phase of the project - the artwork - is a spatial audiovisual installation presenting interviews in a special format. All men interviewed are asked to make images and/or video recordings about their surroundings, whatever they find important. Interviews and images are edited into one audiovisual file, and all the files are stored on a media server and transmitted via cables to the hanging displays. Above the displays there are small directed loudspeakers providing the sound for each displays individually. The small displays (all different) we use are commonly used in mobile phones. Now we have about 20-25 parallel video streaming in the exhibition space and visitors may walk around to watch and listen them. They have to go close to the displays to see and hear.

 
 

To get the overall image of the interviews, all texts are going through language analysis and we can create a certain time segment's tag cloud: every word (except conjunctives and articles) is said in the room within a certain time is placed into this cloud and we can project it onto the wall. Thus we create a time-based layer above the personal layers and this "meta-personal" layer might be able to render an overall image of what people are just talking about.

This art project is mapping a small but significant part of our social world, combining old and new media, old and new techniques of representation. In my works I'm always looking for new representational methods to express parallel and mutually interlinked, complex processes. In this multifaceted project my goal is to create a space where linearity of time and the non-linearity of space and thoughts may be experienced simultaneously.

 
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