I’m not sure how, but it seems that I’m trapped on the 86 tram line. (Which sounds especially bad, post the release of The Bedroom Philosopher’s – Northcote (So Hungover).
Since moving to Thornbury everything I do generally relates to that perpendicular line of tram tracks leading into the city. I work along the 86 (Collingwood), I eat along the 86 (Bang Bang, Moors Head, Seoul Soul, Trippy Taco etc.), I drink along the 86 (Joe’s Shoe Store, The Grace Darling, The Gasometer, 303), I go to house parties along the 86 and I do just about everything else along there, I’m even writing this blog post along there.
Maybe it’s because I’m a poor uni student and I catch public transport everywhere? Maybe I’ve found some great places and feel no need to change? Maybe it’s because all my friends are along the 86 also? Maybe I’m lazy? or maybe the 86 is just great? Who knows. But long story cut short, this is why when I found out that for my capturing creativity studio I would be paired up with an artist from Gertrude St Contemporary I was like ‘oh shit, the 86 wins again’.
Gertrude St Contemporary is one of those places that I’ve seen literally THOUSANDS OF TIMES (that’s how much I catch the 86), but i’m ashamed to say I’ve never been inside. The 86 does that to you, you feel like you know a place because you’ve seen it so much, but you’ve never actually been there. So it’s safe to say that I’m pretty excited for my first visit.
What is creativity?
How de we define creativity?
Where does creativity come from?
How philosophical is the notion of creativity?
Is everyone’s ‘creativity’ different?
Or is it an ill conceived, simplified term that is used to describe a very specific series of neuronal & bodily reactions to certain stimuli?
These are all the questions I’ve been thinking (and googling, and youtubing) since beginning this Capturing Creativity studio* and I have found some answers or maybe I’ve just found more questions:
Creativity is generally defined as the ability to make new things, or come up with new ideas, it’s an ability to think outside the box, to see unique solutions and employ them in inventive ways. In this sense creativity is not always utilised when being ‘creative’, as to be creative is simply defined as the ability to make or produce something. However I guess that depends on your definition of creative, how different, unique, special, once off, un-influenced does something have to be, to be classified as creative?
This is where creativity get’s tricky.
It’s all well and good to be like oh this is what creativity is, so it’s easy to investigate it, but what if you don’t define that as being creative, maybe that was just following a formula, a somewhat inspired formula, but maybe it is just a formula. Creativity to most people seems to be a random mix of once off genius combined with solid skill and hard work and for us humans these percentages are unique to us.
Maybe creativity to you is 90% unique idea, 5% skill and 5% hard work.
Maybe creativity to you is 40% unique idea, 50% skill and 10% hard work.
Maybe for you creativity doesn’t have to involve any hard work at all.
For me when it comes to creativity I’m most interested in that unique idea portion; where does that unique idea come from?
Is it simply random?
Is it a gift from the gods?
Is our unique idea just a product of a lot of subconscious effort, only made aware to us in the sense of a ‘random’ idea?
Have we been influenced by something, processed it subconsciously, then come up with a creative idea, only to be unaware of the original influence?
Or is creativity a combination of genetic preferences, individual tastes, things you viewed on tumblr that day added together with a little bit of ‘what your friends like’?
I’m not sure what creativity is, but this is a good thing.
That allows me to be open minded and to listen to what my artist is saying, without pushing the narrative in a specific direction. My artist can inform me of what they think creativity is, how they are influenced creatively and what they believe the route cause or process to be. Maybe i’ll agree with their version or maybe I won’t, but by the end of the studio myself, the artist and our class of film students will be a little bit closer to understanding our own definitions of creativity.
Thinking about audience interactivity and ideas of audience consumption and creation has got me thinking, when have I engaged with media, to create something new? These are the things I could think of:
My Art Blog: On my art blog I often find imagery online, or my own imagery, that was not initially intended as ‘art’ or to be read a certain way. But through posting it to my blog, I recontextualise that image, contrasting and comparing it to the surrounding imagery, often create new interpretations and ways of reading and being inspired by images.
My Music: The music that I create is distinctly mine in that I write it about my life, my experiences, my perspective, my environment etc. but like all media it is influenced by the countless amounts of media that have come before it. The main inspirations for my work are slick neo-soul, R&B, funk, electronic and old school african grooves, without this former media mine would not exist, or atlas certainly not be the same. Our consumption of other media is filtered into our own creations, often subconsciously, but this is still fitting within this model of audience interactivity.
My Photography: Photography has been a slowly developing hobby of mine. Honing my work has required years and years of googling ‘how to take good artist photos in dim light’ and comparing my images to the images of my influences, taking note of differences, and assessing where I can improve. I also keep a folder of imagery that I use for inspiration and guidance, a vibes folder through which I can re-create or be re-inspired by the imagery that gives me life.
Creativity as a mindset is sometimes hard to maintain, for some it’s forever there, for others you can feel creatively dead, or creatively drained at points throughout your life. This is why consumption of others work, art, media etc. has always and will always be a thing. As humans we have forever taken inspiration, created and re-created, building for hundreds of thousands of years upon the work of the humans coming before us, or even the animals around us, or the earth around us.
New technology is a catalyst for mass re-creation, mass re-contextualisation and mass-inspiration. It is this opportunity that has led viewers, to become creators, enabling humans to evolve further along our own timeline of creativity, further pushing the boundaries, further enhancing ‘the human experience’ and further documenting it, through deeper and deeper layers of meaning and reference.
This week we’ve been covering documentary, so I thought that for my initiative post it’s only fair that I pay homage to Werner Herzog, one of the greatest documentary filmmakers of all time. In 1999, Herzog wrote out his ‘Minnesota Declaration’, an article attempting to explain his approach to filmmaking and his ideas regarding ‘the truth’ and ‘purity’ of the image. The piece is written regarding his 1992 film Lessons of Darkness and is in opposition to the cinematic movement known as Cinema Verité. The piece of Herzog gold is key to understanding his approach to filmmaking as well us allowing the reader to grasp the notion of ‘truth’ in the cinematic image.
The Minnesota Declaration: in relation to Lessons of Darkness.
By dint of declaration the so-called Cinema Verité is devoid of verité. It reaches a merely superficial truth, the truth of accountants.
One well-known representative of Cinema Verité declared publicly that truth can be easily found by taking a camera and trying to be honest. He resembles the night watchman at the Supreme Court who resents the amount of written law and legal procedures. “For me,” he says, “there should be only one single law; the bad guys should go to jail.” Unfortunately, he is part right, for most of the many, much of the time.
Cinema Verité confounds fact and truth, and thus plows only stones. And yet, facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable.
Fact creates norms, and truth illumination.
There are deeper strata of truth in cinema, and there is such a thing as poetic, ecstatic truth. It is mysterious and elusive, and can be reached only through fabrication and imagination and stylization.
Filmmakers of Cinema Verité resemble tourists who take pictures of ancient ruins of facts.
Tourism is sin, and travel on foot virtue.
Each year at springtime scores of people on snowmobiles crash through the melting ice on the lakes of Minnesota and drown. Pressure is mounting on the new governor to pass a protective law. He, the former wrestler and bodyguard, has the only sage answer to this: “You can’t legislate stupidity.”
The gauntlet is herby thrown down.
The moon is dull. Mother Nature doesn’t call, doesn’t speak to you, although a glacier eventually farts. And don’t you listen to the Song of Life.
We ought to be grateful that the Universe out there knows no smile.
Life in the oceans must be sheer hell. A vast, merciless hell of permanent and immediate danger. So much of hell that during evolution some species—including man—crawled, fled onto some small continents of solid land, where the Lessons of Darkness continue.
W. Herzog (1999). Minnesota Declaration: Truth and Fact in Documentary Cinema. Walker Magazine.
All this talk about collaborating had me confident in my ability to work well in a group, but having been put into three groups, for three separate units, for three separate assignments is definitely challenging my Vanilla Ice ability.
So far I am in a group of three for my Media 1 assignment, a group of five for my Pop Culture assignment and another group of three for my Cinema Studies assignment. For the Media 1 assignment we have to complete a video essay and an audio essay, for Pop Culture it’s a 25 minute speech on superheroes and for Cinema studies its a 40 minute presentation on A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.
To keep you informed, my dear reader, about my life (which I know you find endlessly interesting) here’s a list of the problems I’ve encountered so far:
Balancing everyones schedule: Trying to balance my schedule with 2 other people is hard. Trying to balance my schedule with 8 other people is extremely difficult. One person can’t do one day, another person can’t do another, this group is only available at this time on this day, which is exactly the same time as the other group is available, it’s pretty intense.
Dealing with different vibes: Everyone has a different way of working, everyone has a different aesthetic and everyone has something else they want to bring to the table. Balancing this is difficult, sometimes peoples ideas completely clash, sometimes people feel an idea very strongly, but find it hard to explain said idea and sometimes people just straight up don’t like an idea.
Editing someones work: This has been and I think always will be somewhat awkward. Someone writes something out, you change it up, they liked it better before, the other three of you like it better now, you know what I’m talking bout right?
Broken commitments: You spend 3 hours organising your schedule with all your groups, you finally agree on a time to do something, and someone just doesn’t rock up. DAMN THAT SUCKS, but you deal, ya know.
I think I’ll be able to give you an update on how we progress, but it’s not all negative ya know. Maybe my next post can be all about ‘the good vibes of group collab’, what do you think?
I’ve read a lot about narrative this past week, mainly what is a narrative? how do we construct a narrative? what does a narrative look like? This is good for covering the basics, but i’m interested in where narrative is going and it seems that one place narrative is definitely going is twitter. Now I’m not sure if someone has released a narrative film via twitter, which would be awesome, but people have definitely begun releasing narrative fiction on twitter, which I find pretty damn interesting.
David Mitchell (@david_mitchell) the author of Cloud Atlas released a 280 tweet (140 characters or less) long book entitled ‘The Right Sort’ over the period of a week, back in 2014. Now David Mitchell isn’t the first, or anywhere near the last person to release a novel or short story over twitter, but it’s certainly one of the most interesting I’ve read.
Mitchell’s story begins with:
“We get off the number 10 bus at a pub called ‘The Fox and Hounds’. ‘If anyone asks,’ Mum tells me, ‘say we came by taxi.'”
Has this somewhere in the middle:
“Blood’s strange. We think blood serves us, but what if a human’s just a wrapper for its blood, and really it’s the blood who’s in charge?”
and ends with:
“I understand. That was my soul. My soul. It’s gone. Valium. Bad Valium. Bad Valium. Bad ”
It’s an interesting story about a poor young teenage boy (Nathan) on valium, who follows his mother (Rita Bland) to a party at a wealthy mansion then get’s into all sorts of strife, as either the drug kicks in or as his nightmares turn into reality.
How does twitter affect the narrative?
The story is spaced out. Not only by individual tweet posts, but also by long gaps of time, sometimes by 10 or more hours.
Most tweets contains at least one ‘beat’.
This creates rhythmic cuts, in-between individual actions and motivations.
Locations, actions, people aren’t described in a great amount of detail to ensure that an entire action, from start to finish, can fit into a singular tweet. For example, “It’s a grey afternoon. Rain’s forecast for later. Through a front window, I see wrestling on the telly. Mum walks ahead. I follow.”
The cuts created by twitter size limits, lend themselves to creating continuous jumps between storylines. For example, within the story Nathan constantly switches between current happenings on, filling in background details about characters and situations and the current stage of his valium trip.
Characters thoughts are added in ** and kept to a minimum, as a quick easy way to explain their current state of mind, or the undertone of a specific statement. For example, “‘Sure. My dad can put a bullet between a man’s eyes at a hundred metres. I’ve seen him.’ *Bet your posh ‘father’ can’t do that*, I think.”
The casualness of twitter allows Mitchell to explore obscure, sexual, abstract, meta statements which never seem out of place.
It’s a pretty interesting story, very meta at times and very much geared to a young audience, so I’d say its worth a read, even if you just want to learn more about this “what if a human’s just a wrapper for blood” stuff.
Catch you later,
Louise Alice Wilson
Extracts from David Mitchell’s twitter account, July, 2014, found at https://twitter.com/david_mitchell.
Donnie Darko wasn’t my first taste of textual analysis, but it certainly was one of my favourites. After analysing this film in year 11 media I’ve never got it out of my head, I was contemplating a tattoo at one stage.. who’s kidding, i’m probably still contemplating getting a Donnie Darko tattoo. But the point is.., that textual analysis does not ‘ruin’ films for people, textual analysis can often ‘make’ a film, or for me, add to the already impressive allure of the film.
Donnie Darko in general is about a ‘troubled teenager’ (Donnie) that narrowly escapes death when a jet-engine crashes into his bedroom, by following a giant Bunny rabbit named Frank outside. Frank proceeds to tell Donnie that the world will end in 28 days, which causes Donnie to go on a series of adventures investigating the possibility of Frank’s claims.
This sounds simple enough? weird. But simple enough, right?
For a film that was directed by 26 year old, first time director Richard Kelly the film is incredibly complicated, well at least to the uninitiated viewer. The surprising thing about this though, is that many people who end up watching the film, and not understanding ‘what the film is about’, still say that they love the film? In fact the confusing aspects of Donnie Darko seemed to be Donnie Darko’s greatest strength, making it the biggest film of Richard Kelly’s career and a major cult classic.
But how many ways are there to read Donnie Darko? Well if your an open-minded person, you’d say there’s a million + but if your focus is on summation then i’d say that there are three major ways to read Donnie Darko:
The Time Travel Hypothesis
The Looping Tangent Universe
and of the course, the forever tacky
4. It was all a dream
but that explanation sucks, so I’m omitting it.
Note: The explanations of these films will make no sense whatsoever if you haven’t seen the film, though I think without seeing the film it would make for some funny reading, so maybe read it anyway?
Time Travel Hypothesis Explained:
The film Donnie Darko exists in a ‘tangent universe’, where there is a ‘tangent universe’ there is an ‘artefact’, in this case the ‘artefac’t is the jet engine of the airplane that crashes into Donnie’s room at the beginning of the film, that was meant to kill him, but didn’t because Frank woke Donnie up. Throughout the film Donnie acts as a ‘living receiver’, which is the person who is chosen at random who’s mission is to guide the ‘artefact’ out of the ‘tangent universe’. The living receiver is blessed with supernatural powers, thus explaining Donnie’s ability to control elements like water and fire as well as his incredible strength which allows him to axe chop a metal pipe within the film. Even though Donnie is the living receiver, he is not aware of this, he also not immediately aware of his ‘goal’ nor of ideas regarding the tangent universe and artefacts etc. until he accumulates knowledge from various sources such as the philosophy of time travel book, the manipulated dead and the manipulated living. The manipulated dead (Frank and Gretchen) are people who die within the tangent universe that are connected to the living receiver, thus allowing them to guide Donnie with their knowledge of the impending disaster. The manipulated living are people connected to the living receiver that subconsciously help guide the living receiver.
This Donnie essentially goes throughout the film attempting to understand Frank’s claims, understand the concept of time travel and eventually understand what he is being shown by the philosophy of time travel book, the manipulated dead and the manipulated living in order to deal with the impending end of the world in 28 days. By the end of the film Donnie becomes aware of how to guide the ‘artefact’ out of ‘tangent universe’ thus ensuring that the primary universe be reinstated.
Within the film it is implied that Donnie is schizophrenic (Donnie’s medication and visits to psychologist) and thus assumes that the major plot driver of this film, Frank, is simply a hallucination caused by Donnie’s illness. This theory is plausible as all major aspects of the film could be attributable to this, however it was most likely added by Kelly as a red herring to allow first time watchers to still enjoy the confusing film.
The Looping Tangent Universe Explained:
This theory very much follows the philosophy of time travel hypothesis but with one major change: the tangent universe is created every 28 days then it collapses, looping back to October 2nd then starting all over again. This posits the tangent universe as a time loop that can only end when Donnie is successful at returning the jet engine into the primary universe. This suggests that our viewing of Donnie Darko is simply Donnie’s first successful attempt at ending the time loop, however there have been many failed previous attempts. Aspects of the film that point to this hypothesis include Donnie laughing at the beginning of the film, suggesting he is remembering something from the previous tangent universe loop and the fact that characters Mrs Pomeroy, Grandma Death and Dr Thurman all seem to have inside knowledge about what is going on.
To sum up:
These alternate readings of Donnie Darko are the perfect example of the beauty of textual analysis, within textual analysis you often subconsciously or consciously impress your own ideas onto texts, it’s hard to escape this as thought formation is innate and will ultimately underlie the choices and perceptions you make and have in life. However maybe seeing an element of yourself, or reading into a text in a unique way is not always negative but explains why media can have such a strong emotional impact on viewers. For me, the multiple ways to read the film, as well as the individual way in which I read the film only added to my interest and respect for the film itself, thus I think textual analysis can be a wonderfully personal and beautiful thing.
To finish, here’s one of my favourite scenes from Donnie Darko:
It’s always interesting to read back on why people do things, especially people who end up making a career or a fortune out of the seemingly benign choices they make. Thelma Schoonmaker, the film editor whom my previous post was about was one of those people; she got into editing after seeing an ad in the New York Times. I’m in no way suggesting I’m going to make a fortune, nor that I’m a Thelma Schoonmaker in the making, but I certainly do make a lot of benign choices.
Art blogging, for me, was one of those benign choices. I made the decision to start an art blog very randomly, so randomly I’m not even sure where the idea came from. At the time I had been studying a bachelor of psychology for about two years and found myself interested in the subject, but underwhelmed with the lack of creative ideas and media I was being exposed to.
I’d always been interested in art and most creative mediums, often recording music or taking photographs on the side. But the pages and pages of white and black scientific journal articles must have got to me, because I found myself yearning for splashes of colour, moving imagery, challenging concepts and undefinable ideas. The next thing I knew I had started an art blog aptly titled: Artistic Expansion and I began spending hours a day searching through the internet for content, often finding my best pieces in the most random places, often not even defined intentionally as ‘art’.
Over the last two years I must have blogged hundreds of multi-coloured, multi-textured and multi-layered images, accumulated over 2000 followers and consumed more art than I ever had in my entire life. I find it interesting not because of it’s success, but because before I started my art blog, I really had no idea how much I did or could love art and once I had made my art blog I couldn’t imagine how I ever functioned without it.
I guess a lot of things do hide in our subconscious, until they find a way to get to the surface or maybe that’s just my psychology degree talking.
Thelma Schoonmaker: the legendary editor who has been behind the success of Martin Scorsese’s films for over fourty years, is a female force to be reckoned with. So I decided to give her the respect she deserves and dedicate a blog post to some of her key quotes that have helped to inspire me as of recently:
When asked how it was that such a nice lady could edit Scorsese’s violent gangster pictures, Thelma replied with a smile: “Ah, but they aren’t violent until I’ve edited them.”
“I think that women have a particular ability to work with strong directors. They can collaborate. Maybe there’s less of an ego battle.”
“You get to contribute so significantly in the editing room because you shape the movie and the performances”
“I’m not a person who believes in the great difference between women and men as editors. But I do think that quality is key. We’re very good at organizing and discipline and patience, and patience is 50 per cent of editing. You have to keep banging away at something until you get it to work. I think women are maybe better at that.”
“You help the director bring all the hard work of those who made the film to fruition. You give their work rhythm and pace and sometimes adjust the structure to make the film work – to make it start to flow up there on the screen. And then it’s very rewarding after a year’s work to see people react to what you’ve done in the theater.”
“I read the script just once and then forget it. I just deal with what I see every day on the screen and whether I believe it and understand it.”
“People expect artists to be too normal, I think. I’ve been around enough of them now to see that they’re very extraordinary human beings who behave differently than ordinary human beings. If they weren’t as sensitive as they are they wouldn’t be great artists. They are not the same as us. People should just learn to accept that.”
“From MTV on, the speed of editing has increased, and that is now entering into narrative editing. People are not relying on good shots to tell the story, and I don’t think you can sustain that kind of cutting for the full length of a film.”
“Everybody hated ‘Casino’. They would say, ‘It’s not ‘Goodfellas’. That’s right. It’s not. It’s Las Vegas. It’s not ‘Goodfellas’. And now everybody loves ‘Casino’. Now it’s a big cult film. ‘Raging Bull’ was a disaster and wasn’t recognized for 10 years. ‘The King of Comedy’ was a disaster, now everybody loves ‘The King of Comedy’. This happened to so many of [Martin Scorsese] our films.”
Leos Carax hurts my brain. More specifically Leos Carax’s Holy Motors hurts my brain but I think I kinda like it.
I first viewed Holy Motors after stumbling across some beautiful screenshots of the film on my Tumblr dashboard. The screenshots were beautiful enough to entice me to seek out the film, but I was yet to discover how the narrative or lack of it would also add to the film’s magnificence.
My first viewing of the film was alone in a dark room which in the end lent itself to a lot of post viewing googling, such as “meaning behind Leos Carax Holy Motors” or “plot summary of Holy Motors. After coming up with some unsatisfying summaries that stated “Leos Carax is in love with love” or “a journey from life to death” I decided to stop googling. These reviews didn’t just leave me with a head full of burning questions, they also left me with that dissatisfying feeling of disenchantment. It was a similar feeling to the one you get when you show a musical friend your new favourite band and they tear apart their drumming technique or point out how genre conforming the whole album is.
After viewing the film for a second time (surrounded by people in a dark room) the magic of Leos Carax’s Holy Motors was again evident. Hearing the gasps, hearing the laughter, hearing the uncomfortable shifting and the complete transfixion re-ignited that original enchantment and all those burning questions. If your like me and you like it when you brain hurts, I’d advise that you go see this film, surrounded by people in a dark room and don’t google anything after, just talk. Talk to the people around you, revel in your wonder, revel in your discomfort, revel in your brain hurt. Don’t attempt to google the ‘solution’, just revel in this wonderful film, because it is rare these days to come across a film that can produce wonder, pain, laughter and discomfort on a truly genuine level, so you may as well enjoy it.