Monday, March 16, 2015

Final Project: Viral Video

My final project consists of a YouTube channel dedicated to deconstructing and reconstructing viral videos. This was an ambitious project, which predictably, turned out to be not quite as ambitious as I originally hoped, but it was still very interesting and I hope to continue with it. I ended up with three videos, one centered on walking/dancing, one on music, and one on kids/babies. The more I think about it the more I realize how many directions are possible with this project; it's a miracle I managed to narrow down those three. Anyway, here are the three videos:

The YouTube channel: click here.

The thing that struck me thinking about allatonceness and the global village is that these viral videos have managed to get at basic ideas/emotions that connect us all: laughing, dancing, confusion, shock, music, etc. For the most part, they connect to people on a very basic level, and that's what makes them not only entertaining but shareable. For all of our supposed complexity in the digital age, all it really takes is a cat video to connect millions of people. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Topless Cellist - Charlotte Moorman

Charlotte Moorman was an avant-garde cellist and performance artist, known for performing in various states of undress. In short, she was amazing.

She was a Julliard-trained cellist who found her calling in avant-garde performance art. She was part of the Fluxus movement, one of the few women involved, and collaborated with many other avant-garde artists, most notably Nam June Paik. Paik created many electronic contraptions that she would use in performance, such as the TV bra. 

It's exactly what it sounds like.

She orchestrated 15 public avant-garde festivals in New York from 1963 to 1980. She wanted all types of avant-garde to reach as wide an audience as possible. She once played a piece on her cello while strung up by a dozen weather-balloons, floating over the Sydney Opera House. Nbd. 

I think that McLuhan included her in TMITM where he did because of her balance between the old and the new in her art. On the page before hers, he talks about a transition phase between the old way of doing things and the new, the former trying to persist over the latter but ultimately failing. Moorman's life and work exemplifies this idea: she was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas in the 40s and 50s, about as traditional as you can get. She was extremely committed to her music and constantly looked for ways to improve her technique until she got bored with classical cello in her late 20s. She transitioned to the new, the avant-garde style of performance, and the more she got involved in it the more she was convinced that it was the right style for her. She constantly pushed the boundaries of her performance, seeing how much she could get away with. From the old and the new, "Moorman invented a new mode of performance that combined classical rigor, jazz improvisation, and avant-garde experiment--informed by intuition, daring, and love of spectacle" (Joan Rothfuss, Topless Cellist). 

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Prints + Books + Gallery Opening

This project was more extensive than anything I've done before, and I think it turned out pretty alright. I have improved my photoshop knowledge from next to nothing to basically proficient, and I'm interested in playing around with it more. The book creation process was surprisingly simple; it's pretty amazing that that's all it takes now to create a book- a layout and some photos, pay 20 bucks, and get your own book in the mail.

I think the gallery opening went really well; I was glad to see so many people walking and talking about the art. I also appreciated that Noah's description was more about food than it was about art.

Ridley's off kilter frame also ended up reinforcing the "something is happening" theme. I think if we didn't have that one element of off-ness it would have seemed too perfect and "something is happening" wouldn't have as much of an impact on first sight. So thanks to whoever put only one nail in the wall for that frame I guess? 

Great show everyone!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Anthony Appiah Lecture

I found Professor Appiah's convocation interesting, but ultimately very broad and generalizing. He made a good point about the role of honor in society, or respect more specifically, and the need for sustained dialogue about our values as a community. But this is such an immense topic that it raises more questions than it answers. How do we get such a dialogue started? In the case of international dialogue, who gets to start that dialogue? How can we avoid simply one culture/way of thinking imposing itself on another culture/way of thinking? Where do we draw the line between what needs to be changed and what is simply cultural difference? The case is obvious in situations like foot binding or FGC, but what about something like arranged marriage, which is in more of a moral/ethical gray area.

Appiah's ideas obviously coincide with McLuhan's emphasis on global connectedness via technology. In some ways I think Appiah's honor discourse is already in effect via the internet. Through the web we are more able to talk to each other than ever before, and we have been able to spark important social and political conversations through this technology. And yet, if Appiah advises caution in this type of discourse in person, even more care must be taken through technology, since it seems to be several times easier to inflame someone with even the best of intentions. Not to mention some people are more willing to be intentionally hateful on the internet because of the anonymity it provides. All of these complications essentially go back to what I first said about Appiah's argument: it makes sense, but it's incredibly complex and not as simple to implement as he makes it sound.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Testing the Ice

This soundscape was inspired by John Cage's statement that "everything we do is music." All music is sound and all sound is music. This idea got me thinking about how we perceive sound and that everyone perceives sound differently. What is "music to my ears" may not be music to yours. With that in mind, I recorded many different sounds in my daily life, trying to figure out what sound resonates with me musically that isn't what we would normally call music. I ended up recording myself walking on ice, lacing up my skates, and figure skating on Ormsby lake.

I took figure skating lessons for five years in middle and high school, and I've always thought there was a musical quality in the sound of the blade on the ice gliding, turning, and jumping. I hope I have communicated both a sense of fluidity and rhythm in this soundscape, mirroring the way a skater should move across the ice.

I edited this project very little, although I played around with it a lot. The only changes I made were to cut a few clips together and reduce the background noise slightly in an attempt to muffle the wind. I hope it turned out alright. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Project #3: Sleepytown

Sleepytown is a series of photographs taken between 7 and 10am on a Tuesday morning on the Lawrence campus and the surrounding area. The project attempts to counteract Marshall McLuhan’s idea of “allatonceness” (63) and “a world of total involvement in which everybody is so profoundly involved with everybody else” (61), as well as address “the humanity of the moment” and the possibility of “a genuine connection between individuals” (Greenough 187-188). As a society, social media and the process of being constantly connected to each other consumes us just as much as we consume it. The idea of this series was to ask whether we could remove ourselves from the busyness of “allatonceness” and reconnect to ourselves, to our physical surroundings, and to our in-person relationships.

I tried to order the photos to reflect the idea of waking up, creating a gradient from solitary to social, cold to warm, impersonal to personal. These photos attempt to make the everyday more visible in an attempt to capture “the humanity of the moment” and a heightened awareness of our surroundings.

 And while I think the series achieves this progression in some ways, in others it seems to remain disconnected and distant. Several photos in a row show students absorbed in their phones, making them seem far away no matter where the camera is or what tone the photo has. The final photo of two students at a table in the café is the closest we get to a look at an in-person relationship, but they aren’t looking at each other, and they’re not speaking. So in this age of extreme technological connectedness, how connected are we really? We should be aware of how our technological connectedness affects our human connectedness, and that “allatonceness” doesn’t necessarily translate to awareness of the things around us and of the world at large. So we have to consciously make the commitment to be present in our lives; we have to continue to find “the humanity in the moment.”

Click here to view the photo set in Flickr. (Note: Start from the bottom up.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Project 2: Scroll Down

This project is focusing on time and space in the digital and physical worlds. I am specifically focusing on Marshall McLuhan’s idea of “allatonceness” and that “Information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously. As soon as information is acquired, it is very rapidly replaced by still newer information.” In his book The Medium is the Massage, written in the 1960’s, he discusses a new city of the future that he terms “an information megalopolis,” which I represent via the Internet and social media. Generally, I think McLuhan views this continuous stream of information as a positive thing and a way to connect people, but I aim to show through this video that it also makes us less aware of where we are in physical space. Thinking about time, it also takes us out of the present and places us in a vacuum of “internet time”, which seems to go faster and consumes our awareness of the present.  

How much time do you spend each day scrolling down?