Creative Arts in the Digital Revolution

Johnston Center

Graduation Contract

Creative Arts in the Digital Revolution

Chris Reynolds


Advisor: Daniel Kiefer

Expected Graduation:

May 2001

I do this every year or so. “This” is a process of re-evaluation. Of myself, my art, my ideas. They’re constantly changing, reforming, transforming. I write a manifesto, a restatement of my assumptions, put it away somewhere, and write a new one later. This constant self-evaluating narrative is a pretty Johnstonian idea. I came to this place with no particular belief that anything I did could be construed as art, and I’m leaving this place believing that I am an artist, that everything I do is an artistic act, that art is not limited by boundaries, audience, media, or limits. I came to Johnston because I was chasing after an idea I got from voodoo-neo-Nietzschean-philosopher-artist, Hakim Bey who talked about Temporary Autonomous Zones. Bey’s TAZ was an anarchistic ideal just intellectual enough for me to accept pretension, and believe that I was more than just punk rock. And in Johnston I found what seemed to be an autonomous zone. When given the freedom to pursue any educational direction I wanted, I leaned toward things in which I already had an interest: primarily computers and music. What I’ve thought were my primary interests have changed many times over the years. I came here thinking I wanted to be a creative writing major with lots of film and theatre. Then it was computer science, then computer graphics. What I’ve enjoyed most about Johnston is that it doesn’t matter. All of these things are important parts of me. Johnston’s enabled me to study anything which interests me at the time. Religion, philosophy, and gender are some of the things I’ve added to the list of What’s Important. Through the lenses of these new fields of study I reevaluate my art, and create new art with dimensions previously unconsidered.

In a word? I can’t describe myself in a word.

Okay, two then. Three. A short paragraph. A narrative. Tell me about yourself. Tell me who you are.

There’s nothing I can say I haven’t said before. Everything I am is in my art. In high school theatre, I loved it not because I could be someone else, but because I could be another version of myself. I still find that when acting today, as well as in role-playing and writing. My visual art is nothing more than a collage of the images in my head on any given day. This one’s titled “gender,” this one, “pornography,” this one is “religion,” this one, “art.” The idea of collage is something I bring even into my music; borrowed ideas and sounds, reassembled. I am a child whose only consistent parent was MTV. Awake on the Wild Side showed me unconditional love. Is it any wonder, then, that my biggest teacher and influence is pop culture, and my most common medium is pastiche?


Computers are wonderful toys. Ever since I first touched a computer I was fascinated by its inner complexities, and wanted to be able to decipher all of them. Writing a program is as much a process of creation as painting, even more so in my opinion. When programming, my only medium is the computer and my knowledge of the language. There is no canvas but the monitor, no paint but the code. The final product has the potential to be more widely seen than any painting created. Distribution and/or advertisement on the Internet allow for computer-related products to reach the far corners of the world. But computers hold more novelty to me than machines to do my bidding. Computers allow for miraculous manipulations of prerecorded media, such as paintings, sketches, photographs, and audio. They’ve changed the way I look at art by creating a new dimension, a new medium, a new genre of art. They are amazingly powerful tools, and since my first computer, I have been drunk with the power they have given me.

My new passion is the ways in which people think, and why they think the ways that they do. This includes-but is never limited to-gender theory, social theory and philosophy, and religion. The ways in which we define ourselves and our surroundings. I love talking about these things, and thinking about them in terms of my own life and the lives of the people around me. I know I’m going to continue to study and continue to talk about these things, whether it leads me into teaching, and confronting these issues in the classes I teach, or counseling-dealing with some of these issues head-on. Those two areas are paths I now see myself pursuing in the future, things that I enjoy doing. Johnston helped facilitate my discovery of these directions through my job as a Community Assistant, and the way in which I approached my senior project which involved organizing a two-semester class. Johnston has helped me see art in the world and in myself. Now I want to see what else I can find and do.


Music is my blood. Music is my primary language. Music is how I communicate. I learned how to speak music naturally, through osmosis. Music has been a part of my life since before birth, when my parents would take me to concerts in utero. I spent the first 10 years of my life simply appreciating it. Then, for a few years, I went about solely copying the sounds I heard. About the time I was in 7th grade, I started composing my own music. It was at this time that I started my first band (I think we called ourselves Zygote). In high school, I prolifically recorded a new album of original compositions at the rate of one every couple of weeks. It was only natural once I got a computer, to use that as a medium for music-making. In addition to creating my own original music, listening to music and sharing that with others remains important to me. It is for this reason that I enjoy performing behind a pair of turntables and cd players as disk jockey. DJ’ing is an art. It’s more than just spinning disks. A DJ has to read his/her audience, and know how they are going to respond to each song the DJ plays. A DJ needs to know what songs go well together and what songs don’t. Mixing music as a DJ is just like mixing media as a collage artist. Music is emotion. Listening to music–as much as writing it–is an expression of what I’m feeling. Just the right song at the right moment can make me laugh, cry, love, hate. Part of the thrill of playing music-whether through DJ’ing, composition, or live performance-is the idea that I’m guiding people on a journey, and making them feel a variety of emotions. That’s what defines good art for me; creating something that instills emotion in the audience.

Something else goes here but it hasn’t happened/been written yet.


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