Everyday Media

An everyday blog about media by everyday blogger Louise Alice Wilson.

Category: Lectorial (page 1 of 2)

Small, Medium or Large

I’m greedy so I always go large, but let’s talk about medium.

Media whether it be art, film, photography or written, has three distinct layers of meaning: media as a conduit, media as languages and media as environment. Such layers of meaning can be extracted via textual analysis, observation of affordances and medium analysis.

Media always occurs via a certain medium, whether it be online blogs, youtube videos or physical photographs. Each of these mediums provides it’s own affordances and each medium will lend itself to alternate analyses, this is explored more within medium theory.

Medium theory explores how each mode of expression for human communication is physically, socially and psychologically distinct and how these distinct modes can impact the meanings of such communications. Nerdwriter 1 explores medium theory brilliantly in their video “Youtube: The Medium Is The Message”, more specifically exploring the unique affordances of youtube and the formation of this mode of delivery.

 

 

 

Institutionalised

What in the world is an institution? Institution is like one of those words that you know what it means, but its hard to explain it someone.

An institution is: An establishment, organisation or foundation that is created in order to produce and distribute certain products, such as a media institution.

Some examples of famous media institutions are:

  • News Corp
  • BBC
  • Channel 4
  • ABC

Such media institutions are often collectivist in nature, regulating and structuring activities through developing specific work practises.  They often have associated social, political, cultural, religious and economical values, preferences, relationships and associations that members, employees and associated people are expected to align with. These companies are often long enduring, with society at large being very aware of their status.

Along with their known ‘status’, media companies often attempt to create a ‘brand identity or image’. This establishes a difference between themselves and other companies, allowing brands to appeal to different audiences. Brand images often attempt to be positive, unique and instantly recognisable, to create a set of associations within the consumers mind between certain products or feelings and the brand.

Values and ideologies are often transferred through the media texts that brands create, this allows powerful institutions (e.g. the BBC) to influence the attitudes, beliefs, desires and preferences of people on a world wide scale. These leaves the world in an uncomfortable position, whereby individual people at the top of such brands, have an indescribable amount of impact upon potentially millions of viewers. Such as brand heads include Joanna Shields, the managing director of Facebook, Larry Page the chief executive of Google and Sir Jonathan Ive the senior vp of design at Apple.

I think Kendrick Lamar’s – Institutionalised is a great song, that explores that controlling powers of such institutions, maybe not media institutions, but at least institutions at large:

Catch you later,

Louise Alice Wilson

 

 

Anybody Out There?

Anybody out there? the audience hopefully.

Who are these ‘audience’ people?

The conception of audiences has been changing over the years. We’re not so stuck in this broadcast model of media production, where audiences are seen as passive consumers. Rather audiences are considered to be more aware and critical of the media they consume, as well as being tastemakers who can shift the produce of the industry through audience interactivity or self-production.

Narrowcasting

Narrowcasting is based upon the postmodern belief that broad or mass audiences no longer exist. Therefore narrowcasting is a refined or adapted version of broadcasting, wherein makers aim products at specific segments of the population. These segments are defined by their demographics, subscriptions, values and preferences, this enables makers to identify and target niche markets.

But who cares about the audience? lots of people:

  • Advertisers
  • Commercial broadcasters
  • Production houses
  • Government policy makers
  • Social scientists/psychologists
  • Cultural theorists/media scholars

Fandom

Fandom is a term used to describe a group of people who share a common interest, this common interest often embodies the form of a television series (Star Trek), character (Hello Kitty), comic book series (Tank Girl) or literary series (Sherlock Holmes) etc. Fans within a fandom often spend a large portion of their time interacting with or communicating about their fandom of interest, as well as devoting a large part of their identity, often even physical to displaying and representing that fandom.

Fandoms were once seen as comprising only ‘freaks’, ‘geeks’ and ‘weirdos’ relegating extra interaction with texts as obscure and unusual. However fandom has somewhat been absorbed into mainstream culture, often encouraged by the corporations and creators that make such media texts. This has led to a new wave of audience interactivity, where most consumers of texts can be seen to interact with certain texts at an extra level, beyond that of once off consumption. This is also encouraged by new technologies, changes in media industries – products often requiring more active modes of spectatorship and the internet – becoming a ‘knowledge space’, where one care source and share knowledge on fandoms.

Evolution

Regardless of the industries understanding of ‘audiences’ it is certain that audiences are evolving, interacting with texts at new complexities, experiencing texts through deeper and deeper layers of meaning and references and adding their own spin on textual understandings and meanings. Audiences are also often creating media themselves, adding to the sphere through which they consume, allowing audiences to interact with and influence the ‘influencers’.

 

Catch you later,

Louise Alice Wilson

Experiential-mental

I wonder if words that are only defined by their opposites feel sad about that.

Hi i’m non-Louise, I’m essentially the opposite of what Louise is.

But who are you?

 

Non-narrative is much the same. It’s often defined by it’s opposition to narrative, thus we should start with: What is narrative?

“Typically a narrative begins with one situation; a series of changes occur according to a pattern of cause and effect; finally, a new situation arises that brings about the end of the narrative” (Bordwell & Thompson, 2010)

Non-Narrative is often utilised in experimental films, these films often rejects mainstream conventions and standards, often choosing to explore the medium itself instead. Such films sometimes test the limits of the medium,  by manipulating audiovisual elements in obscure and interesting ways such as Stan Brakhage’s Dog Star Man.

Stan Brakhage – Dog Star Man (1962)

 

Experimental films often utilise two main types of form:

Abstract: Filmmakers often utilise visual attributes such as colour, shape, size and movement within the images, to convey a perspective on a certain topic. Such abstract form can be utilised in other types of films, but the abstract imagery often becomes subordinate to the rhetoric purposes.

An example of abstract form in film: Stan Brakhage – Mothlight (1963)

 

Associational: Within associational form, material is juxtaposed to suggest concepts, expressive qualities, similarities, contrasts and emotional associations between the various imagery. Associational films often group images together in layered sets, using repeated motifs and/or content that encourages constant interpretations, such as Koyaanisqatsi’s Life Out of Balance.

An example of association form in film: Koyaanisqatsi – Life Out of Balance (1982)

Catch you later,

Louise Alice Wilson

 

 

Blog Affordances Afford…

What are the affordances of blogging? Or in other words, what are the specific and unique attributes of blogs? This was the key question brought up at this weeks lecture by Rachel Wilson, and it’s an extremely important question given that the answer contains what motivated the course to encourage blogging in the first place. Before we look at the affordances of blogs, let’s first look at common features of blogs and how these features add to the overall abilities and impacts of blogging.

Common features of blogs:

  • Blog name: personalisation, communication of potential topics and overall vibe.
  • Blog roll: links to outside blogs, creates community connections and directs viewers to specific spaces.
  • Post heading: personalisation, communication of potential topic and vibe.
  • Categories: organisation of ideas, defines key topic areas.
  • Date & time stamp: lends itself to connection between producer and viewer.
  • Archived by date: lends itself to documenting process and progress.
  • Ordered reverse chronologically: up-to-the-minute info, encourages viewers to check the blog regularly.

Affordances of Blogs:

  • Comments & Interlinking: encourages relationships between content producers and content viewers, allows for sharing of information and expansion or diversion of topics.
  • Networking & Connection: a space for peer support, learning & interactivity.
  • Range of voices: professional, personal, informal, scholarly. Promotes personalisation and freedom of expression.
  • Up-to-the-minute info: lends itself to exploring daily topics, current ideas and new inspirations. Encourages faster and greater engagement between producer and viewer.
  • Brief posts: encourages higher post rate and greater engagement with each post.
  • Content Control & Freedom: posts can be as silly and specific or as broad and meaningful as the poster desires. Encourages exploration of non-typical topics, extraordinary ideas and alternative thought.
  • Document progress: record of achievement, literal time capsule of ideas, tastes, thoughts, inspirations and work.
  • Multiliteracy development: complexity of the medium, lends itself to complexity of understanding and engagement.
  • Embedding: link ideas, inspirations, references influences through various mediums such as  images, texts, sounds, videos etc. Encourages audience engagement, greater audience understanding and adds vibrancy and personality to a post.
  • Accessibility: Accessable to anyone with an internet connection, boosts potential impact and overall versatility.

Keeping the affordances of blogs in mind, will ultimately lead to better blogging, as the affordances of blogs are what make blogging dynamic and impactful.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

wwwww.interview

Louise Turley gave a great lecture on “The Art of the Interview: The 5 W’s” so I decided to use it as a template  to guide me before, through and after my interview:

WHO?

1. Do they have something to say?

Yes, they have a lot to say, often too much. So i’ve ended up editing a lot of it out in order to stick to the criteria. I have found though, that I can help direct them in the right direction and keep their answers brief if I guide them on what is most relevant.

2. Are they credible?

Yes, they have years of experience as a musician, a teacher and a lecturer and they’ve also completed an undergraduate and are currently completing their honours on the same topic.

3. Can they deliver on camera?

If i’m supportive, provide the right energy and can prompt them in the right direction, then yes.

4. Are they good ‘talent’?

Yes. Sometimes too good. They play multiple different interests, so there’s almost too much good material.

5. Who is my audience?

My class members and anyone with a general interest in music or short expository films.

 

WHAT?

1. What are you going to ask them?

  • When did you start playing music?
  • Where did your parents meet?
  • What instrument did your dad play?
  • What instruments do you play?
  • What do you love about these instruments?
  • What do you love about playing music?
  • What do you love about music in general?
  • What are your favourite types of music?
  • What types of music do you play?
  • How did you get into Jazz?
  • How did you get into Ethiopian Jazz?
  • Why are you controlling your honours thesis on ethnomusicology?
  • How was your recent tour of Africa?
  • What was the best part about playing with Ethio-Jazz legend Mulatu Astatke?

2. Research – reading, speaking, observing:

I’ve known this person for a long time, so I know a lot about their musical history, experience and interests.

3. Write questions: simple, as short as possible, open ending, check wording (bias).

Check. As seen above.

4. Practise

Check. I wrote out a list of potential questions prior, informed my interview subject of them, then conducted a rough interview. After the first interview I conducted a second interview, that was informed by the positive and negative parts of the first interview. This gave the video short an overall clarity and level of professionalism it may of not otherwise had.

 

WHERE?

1. Location – home? work? other? why? permissions?

At-home recording studio, M.E.S.S Studio, The Horn Ethiopian Cafe & various street locations.

2. Things to think about: light (is there enough), sound (background noise, interruptions), background (what does it say, will it change, artworks).

All four locations have interesting light, the first two are well suited to sound recording, with the latter having a decent amount of background noise, the background in all four locations are dynamic and engaging.

 

WHEN?

When you are interviewing your subject remember:

1. Brief the subject: clothing, questions & answers, repeat your question in their answer.

Non-disruptive t-shirt, and comfortable everyday clothing, that represents the interviewee. Subject briefed on questions and was great at repeating the question in the answer.

2. Maintain eye contact

Check.

3. Listen (use nods and facial expressions not ‘uh-huh’s and mmm’)

Check. I followed this advice explicitly during recording and I’m glad I did because I heard a lot of other people spent a long time editing out mhmm’s and yeah’s.

4. Be flexible/adaptable

Check.

5. Be respectful and show empathy

Check.

6. Stay focused

Check.

7. Be quiet. It’s not about you!

Check. Can hear my breathing in some takes. Creepy. Right? Haha. I didn’t end up using these takes of course..

 

WHY?

1. Why did I interview this person?

Because they are interesting and obscure.

2. Why was the interview good/not good?

Good: I learnt new things and explored someones passion/obsession which was fun.
Bad: Learnt how long it takes to put together even a short piece of video.

3. Why did I ask this question instead of that one?

Generally speaking, because it was more specific and would more likely explore what I wanted covered.

4. Why did they respond in that way?

Generall speaking, because that is there general understanding and experience.

5. What did I learn from this interview?

  • How to be a better interviewer.
  • How to pick out the good from the bad.
  • How to encourage an interviewee to give better, more fleshed out responses.
  • How to construct a narrative from random pieces of footage.
  • How precious light is.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

4′ 33″

Defining something as ‘art’ is a matter of perception, thus any sound can constitute music and any music can constitute art.

This was the central idea behind John Cage’s 4′ 33″, a three movement piece composed in 1952 and first performed on the 29th August, 1952 by David Tutor as part of a recital of contemporary piano music in New York. At this performance David Tudor sat down at the piano, closed the keyboard over the keys and then preceded to watch his stopwatch. At the end of the first movement he uncovered and then covered the keys, repeating this process for the second and third movements and correspondingly turned pages of blank sheet music, then at 4 minutes and 33 seconds stood up to receive applause.

Ultimately the piece sought to frame the mundane sounds that the audience made and heard within those 4 minutes and 33 seconds. Creating an unexpected musical piece from the interplay of performer, audience member and environment and overall questioning notions of art and non-art and pushing the notion that art is a matter of perception.

Such a piece recalls the earlier work of other conceptual and experimental artists that sought to represent a similar notion or to play with the boundaries of art, audience and artist such as:

Marcel Duchamp’s – Fountain (1917)

Fountain

or the more recent work of Marina Abramović – The Artist is Present (2010)

The Artist Is Present

 

The work of John Cage and other such boundary pushing artists has helped to shape modern; culture, taste and perceptions, exemplified by the statement: what was considered dada in Duchamp’s today, is considered art today.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

 

Earlids

“There are no earlids.”, when I first read this I was like “eww, gross” but then I was like “ohh, that’s actually quite interesting”.

Having no earlids, means that us humans and most species of animals (except crocodiles, meerkats, platypus and some other exceptions) are continually absorbing sound from our environments. Even though we might not be aware of all the sounds within our environment (due to an elaborate filtering process) we still do process all of it. It’s a bit of a shame that we don’t get the RAW audio files, but I guess the JPEG’s are more conservative, in regards to the required attention, perception and memory it would take to process that much RAW information.

Our brains aren’t just conservative in the way they choose to filter information, but they also conservative in the way that they perceive and attend to information, this can be highlighted in the difference between hearing vs. listening. Hearing is the automatic process of perceiving sound whereas listening is the active process of attending to the sounds that we hear.

Deep listening is the act of taking listening one step further, it is the process of being fully present to what we are hearing. It requires the listener to avoid assumptions, judgements, manipulations and controlling the minds perspective of the information being attended to. Deep listening allows us to witness our thoughts and emotions as they arise, to acknowledge them, to understand them, then allow them to pass, in order to  understand our minds from an objective viewpoint. By doing this we can rethink our relationships with ourselves, our friends and our community as well as relationships to power, authority and vanity, rethinking the significance, nature and meaning of our social and relational experiences.

So even though we can’t shut off what we are listening to, via some advance earlid, we can shut off the chatter within our minds that alters our perceptions and understanding of the sounds around us. Thus providing a purer experience of sound and of the world around us, without all the bull.

*Note: I am aware that earlid is not actually word, ‘folds of skin covering the ears’ is a much more apt description, but earlids sound gross and weird, so I’m gonna stick with earlid.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

Media Studies 2.0

Since we didn’t have a lectorial this week, due to the Labour Day public holiday, I decided to continue on with Brian Morris’s discussion on Media Studies 2.0. So what exactly is Media Studies 2.0? By all accounts Media Studies 2.0 was first used by William Merrin on the blog he created under the same name back in 2007 and in the same year was also used by David Gauntlett (by coincidence) to reference and describe a new way of approaching  and viewing media studies.

The basic premise of Media Studies 2.0 is that the current model of Media Studies 1.0 is outdated. Media Studies 1.0 focuses on the roles of institutions, production, audiences and texts and these simply just don’t exist in the way that they used to. Media Studies 2.0 seeks to draw focus on the ways in which media is changing and to equip students of media studies with a relevant, up-to-date understanding of the CURRENT media landscape thus allowing them to survive and prosper in the new digital world.

As William Merrin stated in his book Media Studies 2.0, “(media studies) has the potential to be one of the most important subject areas going into the 21st century, at the forefront of digital technologies and their remaking of the world. But equally it has the option of being left behind, it’s focus on  reception and content and broadcast forms and concepts condemning it to an increasing irrelevance for everyone but itself”

The key aims of Media Studies 2.0 as outlined by David Gauntlett are:

  • Expert readings of media texts are replaced by everyday readings of media texts, by diverse everyday audience members.
  • Traditional media, classical texts and specific avant-garde texts are replaced by a focus on independent media projects, like those found on: YouTube, mobiles and other DIY media websites.
  • The focus on primarily Western media is removed to embrace international aspects of media studies such as globalisation and diverse; perspectives, creative attitudes and authors.
  • Acknowledgment that the internet has fundamentally changed how  we engage with all forms of media.
  • Rather than teaching students how to ‘read’ media texts, we should recognise their inherent capacity for interpretation, due to their constant exposure to media and associated expository techniques.
  • Traditional research methods are replaced  by methods which recognise individual creativity, and thus remove outdated notions of viewer,  audiences and producers.
  • Acknowledgement that viewers are not just passive/mindless consumers of messages created  by corporations but rather participate in and create individual meanings and viewpoints from the original message supplied.

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

 

Holes, Spaces Between And Gaps

Editing is a process of leaving ‘holes, spaces between and gaps’. Jeremy Bowtell suggests that deep engagement comes from the audience having to do the work for themselves, especially in relation to film narrative or key elements of the plot. You can see the effect of this more extremely in works like Donnie Darko, Mulholland Drive or Inception, where the film gets to live on within online realms for years after its release simply due to clever narrative ambiguity.

Creating meaning is also a key element of the editing process; editors manipulate the content to steer the audience in a particular direction simultaneously encouraging viewers to complete the argument in their head. Eisenstein, a soviet filmmaker of the 1920’s was a pioneer in the theory and practice of montage and juxtaposition. He believed that films should be “a tendentious (argumentative) selection and juxtaposition”, thus influencing the audience in a desired direction. Most films do in fact seek to string the audience along a particular line of reasoning as it’s one of the main facets of narrative film, it’s just that they throw enough confounding material in to make you believe you had to conduce it for yourself.

Edward Dmytryk, a Canadian-born American film director, who is known for his 1940’s film noir’s believed that you should never make a cut without a positive reason. He believed that if unsure about the exact frame to cut on, you should always cut long rather than short. Bowtell states that to cut short is often to obvious and startling to the viewer, thus making longer shots preferential. Dmytryk also believes that filmmakers should prioritise substance over form; think about what you are trying to say, rather than how you are going to say it. It’s easy to get caught up in form, but ultimately form alone won’t make a great film.

Walter Murch, an American film editor and sound designer focuses on three key elements in regards to editing: emotion, story and rhythm.

  • Emotion: Does the cut reflect what the editor believes the audience should be feeling at that moment?
  • Story: Does the cut advance the story?
  • Rhythm: Does the cut occur at a moment that is rhythmically interesting and ‘?right?’?

The three key elements mentioned above can be seen in the scene from Martin Scorsese’s ‘Casino’ edited by Thelma Schoonmaker called ‘When Sam Meets Ginger’. The scene shows the casino manager Sam (Robert De Niro) as he is first introduced to Ginger (Sharon Stone). Within the scene juxtaposition occurs between the chaos of the chips flying and the statuesque Sam and his face as he watches, the chaos caused by the blonde bombshell Ginger.

In terms of emotion: A love story has blossomed by the time De Niro has gotten to the casino floor.

In terms of advancing the story: There is no dialogue, but all of the story is told through Sam and Gingers eye-contact and the timing of these edits; cutting long rather than short.

In terms of rhythm: The scene flows through a series of high intensity, excessively energetic shots with various jazz, blues and 50’s pop soundtracks, to completely still shots comprising no audio at all, leading up to a crescendo as the couple first meet.

This scene alone, was enough to make me fall in love with the film Casino, which is a testament to the power of editing, without great editing a film can fall flat on it’s face. However editors like Thelma Schoonmaker are often the unsung heroes of the film industry, firmly placed behind the scenes, but times they-are-a-changing…

Catch you later, Louise Alice Wilson

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