My Take on Medium Theory

For our PB4, my group has been given the subject of Technology and Mediums, and we seek to explore the evolution of cameras and photography since the beginning of the 20th century and its place within society as a media form. Relative to our topic of Mediums, I read through Meyrowitz’s reading regarding Medium  Theory.

To start off with, Medium Theory is the study of the distinctions between mediated forms (audio, print, text, visual, etc.) on social, psychological and physical levels. The simplest summary of the definition of Medium Theory in my opinion can be found in a quote by Marshall McLuhan, a literature scholar: ‘The medium is the message’ (1960s). The meaning behind this quote is that social influences that arise out of the media are influential not because of the message that is decoded, but because of the medium’s effect on recipients.

Distinctions made between different medium forms include the degree of verisimilitude ( ‘the appearance or semblance of truth[reality]”), the degree of human intervention and interaction required of varying mediums, and the degree to which a medium can be distributed or received simultaneously to many people in many locations at once.

Something that interested me in this reading was the history of medium theory being dated back to Socrates in ancient Greece. Now, first and foremost, I am someone who admires Socrates; my favourite quote by him is ‘All I know is that I know nothing,’ and it really feels relevant to my brain at this point of the year. Anyway, he argued that writing had negative effects on the mind; he believed that we literally no longer needed to use our brains to remember things because we could write it all down. This interests me in regard to the subject of mediums and medium theory because I see it as a fitting and humbling show of the beginnings of communication media studies, way before media was even a thing. Additionally, I find it ironic that Socrates thought writing was bad for you because if he was zapped across time to the present day, imagine his reactions to phones, tablets, laptops, smartboards, printing presses, etc.


Feedback on PB3


  • The composition of the interviewee in the neutral eye level mid shot was very elegant and pleasing to look at with the colours white and pink dominating and I felt it matched well with her story of working in primary schools
  • The only thing that I think had real room for improvement was the initial shot of the interviewee, the high angle long shot. The background in this shot distracted from the main subject, and it could have been improved by re-angling the camera to eye level or removing the lamp from the background.


  • The emphasis placed on sound was clever in using it as a motif to carry this story of a girl who essentially can’t hear anything. I was also impressed by the different aspects of her life that were presented and the way that they were expressed by her signing and translating at the same time.
  • My only issue with this film was that, despite the importance of sound in this story, the opening sequence introducing the importance of sound was too jarring for the story itself. I felt that the overlapping sounds were too overwhelming for a positively vibed interview about a young girl

Project Brief 3 REFLECTION

Most of my successes in making this interview occurred in post. I find I am naturally a better editor than I am a writer or interviewer. I was successful, however, in gathering an abundance of original content in the form of audio/visual media. This included filler shots that I took in relation to my interviewee of old pictures and photo albums. One of the problems that I encountered in obtaining these extra shots and pieces of footage was staying out of other peoples’ ways. There were scenes that I would like to have filmed in a café with my interviewee, however the space was so small and the owners were too busy for me to ask them to fill out release forms. However, ultimately I was also able to film high quality imagery of my interviewee ‘in action,’ following her through her day in town.

This point of positivity was also a problem for me, as I found that my roughcuts were so full of content from the original 15 minute long interview, that there was no room to ‘breathe.’ The roughcut, bordering on exactly 3 minutes, was simply too congested with too much information at once and multiple inorganic and jarring cuts between AV content that to watch it was not as easy as I was hoping for.

This issue was solved by returning to the video a few hours after last watching it, and then coming back with a more critical mindset and cutting out unnecessary or irrelevant parts of the interview that I wouldn’t require.

Another issue that I came into conflict with in the making of my PB3 interview was finding the central driving force of my interviewee’s narrative. I wanted the major ‘theme’ of the interview to be about how having lived so long, fully and richly has led to my interviewee becoming a witty, fascinating and wise woman. When I understood that this was a struggle for me, I came back to the interview roughcut and rearranged the interview’s structure in a way that clarified the central concerns of her narrative.

Another problem that I encountered in the making of this interview was finding relevant found footage to put alongside my interviewee’s storytelling. I wanted to highlight the fact that she has lived in Melbourne for most of her life since 1933, however on it was difficult to find images or footage that showed Melbourne specifically. I could have solved this issue by finding other sources of archival footage under creative commons licenses.

On the whole, I discovered in the making of this interview that I have the capability to problem solve on the go when creating a media product. I encountered varying complications in the pre-production, production and post-production stages of my film, and managed to overcome each one. This highlights to me that as I continue to create and practice my skills, I will have the experience and understanding to overcome future issues as a media practitioner in my future career.

My Take on Narrative in Documentary

My favourite documentary is Rize, dir. David LaChapelle in 2005. It follows the dance phenomenon of Krumping in South Central Los Angeles, a dynamic and revolutionary dance style that the black community turns to instead of violence and drugs. It stunned me when I first watched it, and I was inspired by the incredible dancing and enraptured by the stories of individuals in the community.

I think what struck me about Rize, and was reminded of in the M. Rabiger reading on drama and narrative in documentary, was the struggles that people went through every day in this community.  What struck me in particular was a quote from the reading by Michael Roemer: ‘Plot is really the rules of the universe at work.’ The way that I understand this quote is that although a complication in life, or of the universe, may be resolved, there is always another complication after that.

In Rize, there are many conflicts within the community that practices Krumping, despite their efforts to avoid things such as drug hustling and gang activity. After the Battle Zone event that goes successfully for Tommy the Clown, he comes home to find his house was broken into and robbed. In another incident, a young girl is killed and the grief felt by her family and the community reveberates through the film. These events of the documentary encapsulate the idea Roemer suggests, because in Rize, despite the fact that the community gets through incidents and crises in many shapes and with varying outcomes, there is always another complication that arises.

The Problem with the Cultural Appropriation Debate

A topic of discussion that I have noticed appearing frequently on social media lately is that of cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation is concerned with the ethics of appropriating different aspects of different cultures in art, pop culture, and media, particularly in a way that is exploitative.

First, let’s get some clarity, since I didn’t know much about the subject myself and had to do my research; The debate surrounding culture-appropriation typically involves the terms ‘appropriation’ that is, “to take or use (something) especially in a way that is illegal, unfair, etc.” and compares it with ‘appreciation’ (“to understand the worth or importance of (something or someone”).

There are two sides to this debate. One side believes that cultural appropriation can be disrespectful, offensive, and insensitive, while the other believes cultural appropriation is a mythical construct imagined by ‘feminazis’ and PC (politically correct) fanatics wanting something to complain about. There are plenty of shades between these polarised views, but on the internet, the extremes dominate.

On one level, I see the validity of arguments damning cultural appropriation: it’s never ok to make anyone feel bad about themselves, and it’s definitely not okay to exploit the cultures of others in demeaning and disrespectful ways. For example, I understand that an Indian feather head-dress will look rad with your next music fest outfit, but in Native American culture that head-dress was once only allowed to be one by warriors and chiefs who earned each feather by accomplishing one courageous deed at a time. Herein lies the difference between appropriation and appreciation; I cannot speak for all head-dress-wearing music-festival party legends, but I would venture a guess that most would not appreciate this, and therefore i question whether the choice of garment is really respectful.

Being blind to the positions of minorities and less fortunate cultures and religions and furthermore being disrespectful to these cultures, direct or indirect, is also not okay. On another level, I believe that harmonious coexistence between races and cultures will flourish through appreciation and sharing of different cultural ideas, designs, artefacts etc.

Ultimately, however, I struggle to show my support for any of these ideas simply because I do not want to get involved in unnecessarily hyped up, hostile and often greatly misinformed internet fights.

Many people refuse to believe cultural appropriation exists simply because they do not want to be associated with SJWs (social justice warriors) or feminazis. They also discredit and remain indifferent to these ideas because the way that they are presented is often in an hysterical, OTT mindset that is, ironically, socially unnacceptable.

The whole debate, thus, has turned from a well-informed discussion about respecting each other as human beings into a petty argument often confused by individual egos and opinions. The environment that the internet offers for discussing ideas like this can easily become hostile and unpleasant when frustrated people feel they aren’t being heard. It’s like two people covering their ears and screaming across a room at eachother. If we’re to have any chance of taking full advantage of the amazing potential of the internet for communication and connection, we need to find ways to ensure that everyone feels respected, that everyone feels heard, and that the outcome is not to prove a point, but to learn.

My Take on Photography vs. Cinematography

A latest interest of mine has been practicing my photographic skills. Inspired by such talents as Ansel Adams, Lars Tunbjork and Bruce Weber, I have made sure my camera is used more in my day to day activities.

What has caught my interest lately is how different photographers are creatively motivated, and how this changes their style of photography. My fellow photographer partner in crime, who is studying a Bachelor of Industrial Design, prefers zoom and telephoto lenses, whereas I, with a keen interest in media and cinema studies, prefer a fixed wide-angle lens. My motivation is to capture story, meaning and artistic value through my photographs, and believe that my 24mm wide angle lens grants opportunities to mimic the styles of the Coen Brothers and Wes Anderson. However, the motivations of someone in the career of industrial design is to capture the most aesthetically pleasing image meant to communicate to a viewer the functions, appearance and design of a product.

Should we Prioritise Psychology in Media Studies?

In 2015, the subject Psychology was the most popular subject among VCE students; at the school I attended, there were two full classes out of our 80 student cohort studying the subject. However, only a handful of these students studied Media as well, or went on to study a Media based subject after high school. I did not study it with an ill-informed prejudice against science subjects, and now I wish I did.

In my New Media New Asia class, our current assessment is to pitch an idea for a mobile app that informs its users of how they can be more sustainable citizens. One group came up with the idea of getting users to donate to charities, however the idea would have some flaws if put into action.

Firstly, human beings, as put by my tutor, tend to be selfish. By understanding this inherent selfishness that is evident in human nature, the designer of an app like this could give incentive for the user to donate, and also feel as though they have been personally fulfilled in some way.

Take the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge for example; the campaign to  raised over $100 million in donations, and was immensely succesfully. My understanding is that the challenge, while allowing all sorts of people globally to raise awareness and donate money, also gratified some subconscious selfish desires to be noticed or admired.

What the Ice Bucket Challenge did was that it had people showing off that they had been nominated, indicating that they had popularity. Secondly, it involved people showing off that they were ‘generous’. In fact, many people who did the challenge did not necessarily donate, but rather they wanted to simply show everyone they knew, and the whole world, that they had done an uncomfortable and amusing challenge.

In summation, the brains behind the challenge knew that they could make a campaign successful by creating a rewarding incentive for anyone who joined. The challenge placed ordinary people on the same level as celebrities and movie stars, becoming one of the most successful social media campaigns in the last few years. Understanding psychology was key to making the Ice Bucket Challenge go viral.

My Take on Story-Telling

Today’s lectorial on storytelling really got me interested in my own experience with storytelling. Since I can remember, I have loved to create and imagination stories and worlds and fantastical journeys, and expressed these in drawings and attempts at writing books. Whatever I came up with, I had to get it down in some way, and I could spend a few hours or weeks obsessed with an idea; one of my primary school teachers thought I’d be CEO of Puffin or Penguin books. As I entered middle school and high school, that passion waned a little; I spent less time creating and more time consuming media, which isn’t so bad really. But now that high school and VCE is over, I want to get back and create again.

Something that I think became a weaker point in my productions towards the end of highschool was my ability to create a strong story, and instead spent all my time trying to impress myself and others with what I thought was avante-garde film techniques, cool editing and an unusual and difficult to function piece of steadying gear I got for ten bucks on eBay. It wasn’t until I looked back on these old films I’d made, and also until this lectorial, that it became apparent to me that the techniques, gear, cinematography and visuals that go into a film don’t mean anything without a solid story.

I also got this epiphany watching Casey Neistat’s vlogs and films, in which he encourages aspiring filmmakers to care less about the gear and equipment you use, and more about developing a story or idea. Story is what drives the film, and the equipment, regardless of whether they are a point and shoot camera or an expensive camera drone, are just the tools we use to present the story.