Thinking In Fragments – Assignment 3 (Reflection)

Our project, ‘Friday In Melbourne: City Vs Suburbia’, addresses modularity because each fragment of media we have collected (video and audio pieces) makes sense in itself. Outside of the context of our project, our video of Flinders St station can be understood to be a record of place, for example. In the wider context of Melbourne city, it makes even more sense why we took this video in the first place, as it is a significant part of Melbourne’s history and present. This is how our project responds to variability. All of our media fragments, when put together, have a relationship with each other that points to our themes of Melbourne, city, suburb, place, and time. The Korsakow program, by linking these videos and sounds together, makes this connection possible.

As mentioned in my development posts, online screen production can be quite different to traditional screen production because the environment in which our content is uploaded is less filtered and more unregulated. While the space allows for criticism and ratings to be more easily accessed, it is still filled with unnecessary content that is uploaded for the sake of uploading something. This idea I learnt about the online environment made me realise that self-imposed constraints are helpful when it comes to making content for the Internet, for the reason that it helps us refrain from adding to this cycle of uploading because it’s easy. It helps the production process (though, in any environment – not just online projects) and reminds us to identify our target audience before we begin to collect media. I also learnt that it is possible and even easy on programs like Korsakow to create projects that are non-linear and offer a cluster or display of information and thoughts. For me, this best imitates what the human mind looks like, and not so much like a structured sequence we find outside of the online context.

One of the first concerns I had about online screen production was the communication/collaboration aspect between creator and audience in an interactive work. Essentially, how much input should an audience member be able to have – and does putting a limit on this mean it cannot be deemed interactive? Because when I think about watching an ‘interactive film’, where you choose which decision a character should make based on a series of options, then there must be a limited number of options that you may not even agree with in the first place. How can this be interactive if everything is predetermined and you had no input in the matter until once the options were created? This doesn’t accurately reflect how decisions and their consequences work in real life. In reality, your decision will not lead to “either option A or option B”. In my development posts, I considered a non-interactive documentary to be reductive because it does not depict real life situations in the best possible way. But neither do these interactive films. This project has made me realise that sometimes you may have to put a limit/cap on the outcomes a viewer’s decision will have by predetermining consequences for choosing option C. However (!), online screen projects do not have to be interactive in order to have a powerful effect on the viewer. The content and story can still be considered intimate if you explore personal small-scale stories, or any story that is relatable and people are familiar with. My new understanding of interactivity is that there is an influence – no matter how big or small – on the audience by the creator, and most importantly (usually only seen in an online setting), by the viewer on the creator or their work. The best models of interaction in my opinion, are those that allow the viewer to leave a mark or permanent effect on the work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h_3vHB2dQKg

These vines don’t really make much sense without the viewer actively participating. A big contrast to the level of interactivity with this one:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=df5dW70kFjc

I have also always wondered about looping videos and their ability to play infinitely, which I discovered Korsakow allows, as did the Vine app that was so successful. Does this element improve the quality of watching a video? Is it the fact that the many consecutive plays drill the video into someone’s mind? Does this only work for shorter videos that people are willing to let play over and over again? Does this feature only work best in an online context? I would like to explore this further. My second question is, how I can partake in projects that allow a permanent effect by an audience member to occur? Korsakow can allow a viewer to click through the different videos, but will they be able to leave a unique mark on the project and/or author? Not from the projects I have looked at, but I’m sure there is something out there that allows for this in the big unregulated World Wide Web. Perhaps this will be my focus for the next Thinking In Fragments assignment.

Thinking In Fragments – Assignment 3 (Development 4)

Our work-in-progress feedback was as expected. We were already struggling with what the main topic of our project would be. Being told that it was becoming too much, even confusing, wasn’t surprising. Our project as it is now covers many things – nine different times in a day, four points of views, two different areas of Melbourne, and 9 videos each. Where is the story and where is the focus?

Hannah brought us back to what we have learnt about Korsakow. It is a place for simple projects with complex themes. Right now we have a complex project for multiple themes. With this feedback, we have decided to place more emphasis on the Melbourne city vs Melbourne suburb aspect. To simplify this further, it will be a Friday in the city vs suburb. This is also a constraint we chose to have based on the huge contrast between outer suburb nightlife (rare and virtually non-existent) and the city nightlife (vibrant) we have observed every Friday.
An awesome example:

The total 36 videos will act as a ‘cluster’ of our thoughts of what these experiences look like. These videos are all linked together with the concept of time passing, though this is not directly stated to the viewer. They should get the chance to discover a ‘timeline’ connection for themselves if that is their intention.

We were having technical issues where our html prototype was not playing some media when it should have. However, later on when we met outside of class to work on our project, we chose to start over again and the media began to work again. We played around and constructed numerous and different interfaces to see which would be best for our contrast between city and suburb and have found something that works. We plan to incorporate a clock ticking to provide some suggestion of time passing, though I thought that the distinct change in lighting from light to dark could help as well.

Overall, I must note that we work very well together. I trust Yee Nok’s, Isabel’s and Steff’s ideas and what we do well is that we trial-and-error. This is especially helpful as Korsakow is a program new to all of us. Hopefully our final interactive screen project reflects this cohesiveness.

We thought about having music play in our background like this video but decided against it and have gone with the clock sound and ambience noise we recorded.

Update:

Based on the following notes taken in class, we have decided to make a timeline more distinct and obvious.

-interface is too messy

-videos do not link together

-just getting to click what video is shown next is not interactive (limited options)

-less exploratory as it doesn’t explore or show time

-bridging clip to move between “names/perspectives” keyword SNUs

-eg. all 4x of our videos for 8am but one that goes out to our 4x 10am clips

Thinking In Fragments – Assignment 3 (Development 3)

I have been looking through Korsakow projects to find inspiration for my own assignment three. All of the interactive experiences I have gone through aren’t covering these grand themes. They are videos and texts and images with small narratives. Part of what Korsakow has to offer is that it allows people to explore small stories (Weihl, 2016). Kowsakow projects place emphasis on “intimate, personal narratives” through a reliance on a minimalist aesthetic. The result encourages deep stimulating thought about “ontological and epistemological issues of a most intimate and global nature.” If this intimacy and effect on viewers is not considered interactive, then I’m not sure what is.

Korsawkow arranges SNU clips into a project the participant can interact with. While we, the authors, create a link between SNUs based on algorithmic tagging and keywords, this link will seem arbitrary to the viewer, or rather, the sequence of clips will seem based on their own decisions. Therefore “navigating the material becomes an experimental, tentative exploration of the universe of the Korsakow database… [provoking] uncertainty.” There is already an unpredictability in the way that we live. There is no way to determine for sure what will happen next outside of the digital world, only through mere chance and probability. It’s interesting to see these projects reflect this, by leaving decisions up to us in terms of what to click, and when, and making decisions about why we want to click this thumbnail next. Non-interactive documentary is reductive in comparison. It simplifies the complexities of a particular story, by not providing an accurate depiction of the uncertainty of the real world in which these events occur/occurred. “[R]eality in the sense of the world we live in and we experience ourselves is not based on such simple linear chains of cause and effect. It is much more intricate…[and] to represent reality in dramaturgically well-constructed stories which are based on linear logical thinking, can certainly grasp only a very limited part of the nuances of existence.”

Consequently, our group has decided to make our project theme more personal, intimate, and small-scale. It will still portray Melbourne from two aspects (city and suburb) with an element of time passing, but will do so through four different perspectives – Isabel’s, Steff’s, Yee Nok’s, and my own. We want to avoid the idea of using time so noticeably. It will make the SNUs flow in a linear way. Thus we will make it as subtle as we can, so the viewer has to actively participate in understanding that time is passing in all of our videos.

While we have set time constraints of 10 seconds, we would like to refrain from making our work look commercial. Especially while we are filming short snippets of areas around Melbourne. This is why we need to focus more on our personal points of view of living in this city.

Weihl, A. (2016). “Database aesthetics, modular storytelling, and the intimate small worlds of Korsakow documentaries.” NECSUS Journal, Spring 2016 – Small Data.

Thinking In Fragments – Assignment 3 (Development 2)

It’s been stressed to me that the Korsakow program is not like editing on Adobe Premiere Pro, which means I’m not going to feel familiar with it. Exploring projects on the Korsakow website, and then slowly trying to learn how to navigate it in class has been an intimidating experience. Besides the ones I looked at in my own time, in today’s class we looked at three interactive Korsakow works. I took down my observations.

The featured Korsakow projects were non linear, and more like a cluster of thoughts as opposed to a chronological style that makes it seem like it is showing you a linear sequence of events. It was my instinct to try to make sense of these projects I looked at. They all left me contemplating the meaning behind each one. Hannah suggested we move away from the mentality of “this has to make sense for me” or “I need to understand it in order to like it” because these works are far more intricate and complex than that.

 

 

In the second Korsakow project we looked at I was trying to find the link between the text and the videos shown, but there seems to be no significant hidden meaning behind this. It was explained that the project consists of capturing small moments of place, and not so much of making sense of the place. It is an aesthetic portrayal of location. However, this same work, which is technically interactive, had limited options. We were made to wait before we could click the next section. Does interactivity become limited if we have to wait to progress? If we do not determine pace? On the other hand, this waiting time also gave us the chance to really take in the entirety of the project. Affective editing in traditional filmmaking determines the pace of a film. In interactive works such as these, pace is not predefined, and the viewer is the one making decisions (there is time to pause, rewatch etc), allowing the scenes to determine what will happen next, and thereby creating an intimacy between “viewer” and the work. It encourages – no, forces – us to interact with and question what we are watching.

These qualities of being non-linear and making the viewer have periods of waiting time have informed our decisions in regards to our own project. We want it to be as non-linear as possible (while we still play around with the concept of time, which tends to be chronological to make sense), and we would like to be able to set a faster pace (our SNUs are only 10 seconds long) that will ensure the content is consumed and explored in its entirety.

Thinking In Fragments – Assignment 3 (Development 1)

Today in class someone mentioned that the Internet, as a platform for sharing creative work, is considered to be “unrestricted”. This refers to the fact that everyone who uses the Internet is given the option to upload anything. Mike Masnick (2011) of Techdirt states that this has lead to more “crap” being seen online. The process of making, publishing, and subsequently having people see your work seems far more effortless, especially in comparison to traditional print publishing. Even in 2002, Clay Shirkley talked about how the Internet (and specifically weblogs) give people the opportunity to bring whatever they want to people’s eyes – “a draft of your novel, your thoughts on the war, your shopping list”, unlike print publishing which “acts as a filter”, where work requires authoritative approval before it can reach a broad audience.

FILTERED:

 

UNFILTERED:

So the question for us media students is to consider how we can refrain from contributing to this unregulated mass of online media content that ~tends~ to be fruitless (though that is not to say it is without purpose and meaning for everyone). The answer lies in regulations.

Our third assignment in the studio places a strong emphasis on constraints. Anna Weihl writes about how “structural, thematic, and aesthetic restriction affect concepts [of] authorship”, but my initial thoughts on these kinds of constraints were that they take away freedom and the option to do whatever you want creatively. This was before I began my degree, and before I had worked with my first brief at 16. I would hear the word “constraints” in relation to the videos I’d make for others, and think – why? Steven Bradley (2015) sums it up nicely. It addresses web design, though I still think that it is relevant in terms of making decisions about what footage and audio fragments to collect. “The word constraint can sound like a bad word… Constraints help design because they force a few early decisions on you. They take the responsibility of some early arbitrary decisions off your shoulders and place it on the constraints.” Technical constraints in our line of study – media, video creation, etc – allow us to put more thought into what we film and what we want to communicate and a smidge less into how we do this, at least in the beginning.

I also consider that it doesn’t really feel like we are placing rigid constraints on our work. Bradley writes that they are “rules you didn’t set. They’re an early bedtime or being forced to eat your vegetables when you want ice cream.” But in our case, our constraints are rules that we have set for our own benefit. They’re an early bedtime we established because we want to feel refreshed for that 8am class tomorrow, and they’re the self-imposed rule we set to eat vegetables because we know they’re better for our overall health. Even Dua Lipa also sets her own rules because she knows she’ll be better off if she sticks by them.

As spoken about before in one of my previous posts, the Vine app would place only technical constraints on their creators – that is, to get their message through within 6-7 seconds. This also had an effect on the thematic element of the vines – a quick, easily absorbed message. Though this is not to say that shorter, more succinct projects have more value, but that in this case, the constraint is appropriate for the audience and kind of content developed. In a landscape of distracted viewing and limited attention spans, 6-7 second videos were more appropriate.

“Instagram allows users to take 15 seconds of video; Vine limits you to six. And something about that limit is appealing. Vine co-founder Dom Hofmann [said they chose this limit because] six seconds allowed for the aesthetic feel the creators wanted but preserved the quickness they wanted to promise users… Vine’s brand identity has become synonymous with artists, comedians and filmmakers who use the constraints of time — and the looping — for creativity…Of course, creativity often happens when artists are given restraints. Haiku has only three lines, and it’s been around for centuries.” (Sydell, 2013)

With our project, our audience mainly consists of our peers and teacher. They are experienced media-makers and avid media consumers. As a result, they understand that simplicity does not equate to no thought and effort being put into work. Therefore we can allow our constraints to make the media we collect to be simple – short, 10 seconds, POV without us in the frame, and minimal camera movement. Most importantly, we record using high definition quality because we know our specific audience will appreciate this. These are the structural constraints we have decided on after some back-and-forth discussion on what would be best. In terms of thematic constraints, we are still considering what our focus should be and how to do this in the simplest, most concise manner possible.

Bradley, S. (2015). Why Constraints Are A Fundamental Part Of Design. [Blog] Vanseo Design. Available at: https://vanseodesign.com/web-design/constraints-help-design/ [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018].

Masnick, M. (2011). Is The Internet Enabling Bad Content… Or Killing Bad Content?. [Blog] Techdirt. Available at: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110303/02364013337/is-internet-enabling-bad-content-killing-bad-content.shtml [Accessed 16 Apr. 2018].

Shirky, C. (2002). Weblogs and the Mass Amateurization of Publishing. Clay Shirky’s Writings about the Internet: Economics & Culture, Media & Community, Open Source. Available at: http://www.shirky.com/writings/weblogs_publishing.html [Accessed 17 Apr. 2018].

Sydell, L. (2013). How Vine Settled On 6 Seconds. [Blog] All Tech Considered. Available at: https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2013/08/20/213846816/how-vine-settled-on-6-seconds [Accessed 20 Apr. 2018].

Weihl, A. (2016). “Database aesthetics, modular storytelling, and the intimate small worlds of Korsakow documentaries.” NECSUS Journal, Spring 2016 – Small Data.