Monday, December 20, 2010

Get Your Documentary On This Holiday Season

Just a huge suggestion!

I'm so happy I found the documentary Capturing Reality: The Art Of Documentary because it really put documentary into an attainable entity for little ol' me, a fresh Media Studies graduate student. I put all of these documentaries on my Netflix and I recommend them to any and every one. The directors of these films are featured in the documentary and not only are they examples of all kinds of great genres of documentaries but "Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary" breaks down every aspect of making a documentary.

The Day I will Never Forget A film by Kim Loginotto

Hold Me Tight, Let Me Go A film by Kim Longinotto

My Country, My Country A film by Laura Poitras

Grey Gardens A film by Albert and David Maysles

The Salesman by Albert and David Maysles

Touching the Void A film by Kevin Macdonald

Darwin's Nightmare A film by Hubert Sauper

Biggie and Tupac A film by Nick Broomfield

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who goes online should watch WE LIVE IN PUBLIC.

Here's a link to this site and the documentary is available on stream from NETFLIX

The film details the experiences of "the greatest Internet pioneer you've never heard of,"[1] Josh Harris. The millionaire founded, the first Internet television network during the infamous tech boom of the late '90s. After achieving prominence amongst the Silicon Valley set, Harris became interested in controversial human experiments which tested the effects of media and technology on the development of personal identity. Ondi Timoner documented the major business-related moments of Harris's life for more than a decade, setting the tone for her documentary of the virtual world and its supposed control of human lives.[1]

Among Harris' experiments touched on in the film is the art project "Quiet: We Live in Public," an Orwellian, Big Brother type concept developed in the late '90s which placed more than 100 artists in a human terrarium under New York City, with myriad webcams following and capturing every move the artists made.[2] The pièce de résistance was a Japanese-style capsule hotel outfitted with cameras in every pod, and screens that allowed each occupant to monitor the other pods[3] installed in the basement by artist Jeff Gompertz.[4]

The film's website describes how, "With Quiet, Harris proved how, in the not-so-distant future of life online, we will willingly trade our privacy for the connection and recognition we all deeply desire. Through his experiments, including another six-month stint living under 24-hour live surveillance online which led him to mental collapse, he demonstrated the price we will all pay for living in public."

"He climbs into the TV set and he becomes the rat in his own experiment at this point, and the results don't turn out very well for him[5]," says Timoner of the six month period Harris broadcast his life in his NYC loft live online. "He really takes the only relationship that he's ever had that was close and intimate and beaches it on 30 motion-controlled surveillance cameras and 66 invasive microphones. I mean his girlfriend who signed on to it thinking it would be fun and cool, and that they were living a fast and crazy Internet life, she ended up leaving him. She just couldn't be intimate in public. And I think that's an important lesson; the Internet, as wonderful as it is, is not an intimate medium. It's just not. If you want to keep something intimate and if you want to keep something sacred, you probably shouldn't post it."

(from Wiki)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An American Family

A Family that consumes together, stays together.

I just read Nicholas Garnham's "Contribution to a Political Economy of Mass Communication," "A Propaganda Model" by Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky, and Herbert Schiller's "Not Yet the Post-Imperialist Era." All in all, this photo symbolizes their message.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Cute Advert of the Day

"You eat what you touch."
A nice anti-bacteria advertisement. And a cute dog.
Or loaf of bread....whatever you prefer.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Disgusting Adverts of the Day

Giada looking tampon-like in menstrual-like spaghetti sauce

Translation: I am like a fish in water

Thanks Tampax. That's disgusting.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Forbes on Benjamin on Brecht

Relaxed Learning?

Epic theatre is a style of theatrical performance, most famously developed and unified by Bertolt Brecht, from the early to mid-twentieth century. Walter Benjamin, a critic and friend of Brecht, wrote, “What is Epic Theatre?” which outlines the style through eight categories. Benjamin describes how actors in Brecht’s plays perform on a dais (a low platform rather than a high stage) and are meant to demonstrate a character rather than become a character. Benjamin also illustrates how Brecht’s style purges sensation from the plot and exploits gestures in order to interrupt the action. Each element works together to create a didactic experience, yet the audience is meant to be relaxed at the same time. Using a didactic performance to obtain a relaxed audience is where epic theatre becomes obscure. In regards to a play with the intention of teaching, specifically morally or ideologically, one must really examine how a relaxed audience is maintained because learning is an active process.

A method epic theatre uses to teach is distance yet the audience—as a collective—is meant to recognize themselves and then learn how to be aware of the separation between theater and real life through the separation of the audience and the actors (Budel, 72). Distance is used to prevent over-emotion—to promote the audience to think about themselves in relation to the situations rather than to feel for the actor. The audience becomes aware of the plot’s mechanical revelation and establishment of the real, so they are forced to make decisions about their own lives. In a modern world, many will affirm that when a person recognizes their own actions there are two ways s/he reacts: positively to a positive and denial to a negative. Benjamin says, “This reaction, according to Brecht, ought to be a well-considered and therefore a relaxed one—in short the reaction of people who have an interest in the matter” (Illuminations, 147). Reactions, in and of themselves, are not relaxed. Epic theater is meant to be that of thought not of emotion; therefore, one must question if/why the two do not share the same capacity of energy within the audience.

Back up for a moment to “reaction of people who have an interest in the matter” (147); one should question who the ones with interest actually are. Fradkin says, “[Brecht found a] means for forming public opinion at the disposal of the ruling classes…which as a result lowered to the level of the bourgeois banality and triteness” (102). Basically, theater became the method in which to manipulate people into following the specific politics of the playwright, or the person funding the playwright. There is a reason why the words instructive, enlightening, teacher and political are often synonymous with epic theatre. It’s because Brecht wanted the audience to be influenced and moved to action by what was seen on stage and in order to do that they must not become emotionally involved, rather they must be moved to thinking about the why and how things are the way they are. Brecht became popular in a very tumultuous time in history and it’s only obvious that his motive was to create change.

“The word ‘alienation’ does not appear before 1936 in a Brecht text” (Holthusen, 108). In epic theatre, the audience is meant to feel the unreal, feel isolated, feel a lack of sympathy but alienation also describes a feeling of being controlled. There lies the contradiction of epic theatre. The audience is forced into feeling nothing through a relaxed state; however, relaxing isn’t possible if one is meant to react, to really think. With epic theatre, Brecht tried to create an unemotional scientific spectator yet it’s human nature to be emotional when reacting. In order for one to identify with anything, emotion must play a role, so the negation of emotion in epic theatre is the only quandary. One can’t have a relaxed audience if the audience is also asked to learn at a heightened state.

Epic theatre is essentially the interaction between actor and audience. The actor is meant to cause the audience to reawaken to life by acting out what they observe in front of the humans they’re reenacting” (Holthusen, 107). What does that create? A mirror. Is it relaxing to look in a mirror if you have flaws? No, that’s why epic theatre cannot relax its audience while attempting to teach. In order to point out the illusion of the performance—to send the message—Brecht flooded the stage with harsh light, exposed the stage lamps, and used minimal props (Encyclopedia Britannica). Brecht wanted to make the theatergoers experts of judgment while also rejecting the critic. Is that to say he wanted to common person to replace the bourgeois? Maybe, but when the contradictions are looked at, one can easily think Brecht just liked to get people riled up and that Benjamin placated by promoting him because they were friends. He tried to create emotion by attempting to deny it, tried to shock the bourgeoisie by demanding their attention (Fuegi, 15). In the end, Brecht wasn’t trying to entertain the masses; he was trying to create sustenance in a time of disenchantment by pointing at it.

Work Cited/Researched

  1. Benjamin, Walter. “Studies for a Theory of Epic Theatre.” Understanding Brecht. London. Versuche uber Brecht. 1973.
  2. Benjamin, Walter. “What is Epic Theater?” Illuminations. New York. Schocken Books. 1968.
  3. Benjamin, Walter. “What is Epic Theater? First Version.” Understanding Brecht. London. Versuche uber Brecht. 1973.
  4. Budel, Oscar. “Contemporary Theater and Aesthetic Distance.” Ed. Peter Demetz. Brecht. Englewood Cliffs, NY. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1962.
  5. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc. 1995. Search: Bertolt Brecht
  6. Fuegi, John. “Chapter 1: The Rise and Fall of the Epic Theater.” The Essential Brecht. Los Angeles. Hennessey and Ingalls, Inc. 1972.
  7. Fradkin, I. “On the Artistic Orignality of Bertolt Brecht’s Drama.” Ed. Peter Demetz. Brecht. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1962.
  8. Holthusen, Hans Egon. “Brecht’s Dramatic Theory.” Ed. Peter Demetz. Brecht. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice-Hall, Inc. 1962.

Diesel: BE STUPID and Facebook Cams

Diesel Clothing is a brand that is known for pushing the boundaries and I say they're genius. The "Be Stupid" ad campaign doesn't scream "amazing" but the way they have recognized new media and taken steps to use the consumers to generate more consumers by having them provide free advertisements via facebook.

What do you think about Diesel's latest ad campaign? A bit ridiculous? I was wildly confused by it when I walked by the Union Square store fronts but upon further investigation I actually like the "idea" they're presenting. They're not being condescending toward their consumers--well not totally--it's more of a challenge to "push the norm." At times I want to cringe at the sexual explicitness of Diesel's advertisements; however, they're straight up about the fact that they believe in the motto: Sex Sells so they go for it.

Another media related note that Diesel presents is the installation of new FaceBook Cams.
"Interactive installation at Diesel Stores in Spain, being the first store that allows users to share the moment of buying and trying garments on their Facebook profiles from the store. Consumers are able to make pictures, publish them and boast their new acquisitions with their Facebook friends.

"The Best Diesel Moments" can now be shared with all your even if you can't afford the insanely overpriced clothing, you can take a picture in them and act like you can. Present the illusion on facebook and be "cool."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wired for Robot/Game Warfare

Last week in Understanding Media Studies, Professor Asaro presented the use of robots in the home, media and in war. He explained how unmanned aerial vehicles are piloted by individuals up to 3,000 miles away and more and more of the technology is becoming armed. These network centric warfare tools are used for surveillance (global satellites) and how the use of 1st person shooter real time video games have generated strategy tactics through their convergence with military. Media is also used in the military for recruiting financial backing along with propaganda methods. The concern here is over the human (and lack there of) elements and legal justification of murder. Here is my short response on the issue (mostly a rant). Along with a few links to articles on the subject for more back ground information.

My dad used to always joke that video games were just preparing the nation's young for war, and damn it, he was right. The idea that these machines/robots are now manned by x-box controllers is not exactly shocking. Why spend hours training people with complicated controls and commands when a simple "game" can do it? I used to write abstracts for government and army studies regarding methods of making soldiers react in more machine like fashions and it seems that with the generation of "game warfare" that line is being destroyed.

People who play x-box become mindless in their actions (and by mindless I mean they're just reactionary beings...see it, shoot it) and by transferring that aspect into war more directly the military no longer has to spend as much money training individuals to think like a robot. Yes people are still controlling the robots into killing or surveillance but it's viewed with the same distance as a game...almost as unreal. The military creates all these mind-fucking games and methods for justifying and reconstituting war and the common civilian has no idea (I'm not saying I do anymore than others), I'm just saying we live in "ignorant bliss" or we just ignore it because we're know that it's going to happen whether we're aware or not.

Our public opinion is so skewed from propaganda that we're not even sure what we really know...and what we do know is only a tiny aspect of the whole anyway. We are already at a distance from the war, we never "fight" on our soil so in order to keep men and women "fighting" the war the military has to create a distance for them while in the mist of it all.

Efficiency and ethics in war are not synonymous. America generates the illusion of ethics in war by saying that through efficiency and "preciseness" of modern warfare that America is more ethical but what's ever morally correct about killing?

New Armed Robot Groomed for War

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Messed Up Commercial of the Day

Look at this video through Harold Lasswell's simple theory of communication: "Who Says What through What Channel to Whom and With What Effect?" discusses the commercial:

Melissa McEwan from Shakesville argues that there is no ambiguity to this scene of assault:

And before anyone gets it in their head to argue that this isn't a sexual assault, but instead a scene of a dominatrix and a consenting customer, I'll just note that the setting of the ad is a circus ring. She's literally treating him like a performing animal, and he appears to be utterly terrified. I am acquainted with someone who worked as a professional dominatrix for many years; men went to her to be punished, not petrified-and if someone had become visibly frightened of her, she would have stopped. Images of dominatrices thrilling in hurting scared, vulnerable men are images of sexual assault, not of anything a consent-insistent sex worker does.

However, many people will probably see this ad and think it funny, not offensive or strange. Yet try imagining it with the genders reversed: A terrified woman strips uncomfortably while a large, muscular man-animal growls at her and commands her to dance. My guess is that far fewer people would find that humorous. Once again, sexual assault committed against men is viewed as hilarious - as are violent and aggressive women.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Media Concepts: Photo Narrative

Pratt South Entrance

North bound

Cannon Court

West side of campus

Close up

Tree huggers, the main lawn

Main lawn entrance to court yard

West side exit from court yard

Favorite cigarette break bench

Sculptures to the left when I sit on the bench

Three Messed Up Adverts of the Day

Saturday, October 30, 2010


"The new documentary 'Psywar,' featuring CMD founder John Stauber, explores corporate and government use of propaganda and public relations to manipulate American people. The movie explores how the U.S. government staged events to manipulate public opinion about the Iraq war, like the rescue of Private Jessica Lynch, the supposedly spontaneous mob that pulled over the larger-than-life statue of Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It also discusses the Pentagon pundit scandal, and the hidden activities of the Rendon Group, a PR firm specializing in spinning war. The film exposes government and corporate activities to blur the lines between real news and fake news, as well as the development over time of public relations misinformation campaigns, strategic corporate campaigns to generate goodwill and the perception of good works, the use of staged photo-ops, and other manipulative PR tools that have turned the land of the free and the home of the brave into a place where citizens are now manipulated with great efficiency, and on a massive scale."

PSYWAR (2010)

Friday, October 29, 2010

A messed up Advert of the day

Media Concepts Projects (Font and Visual Literacy)

Some are a little pixelated but you can click the image and it will open in a new window and be more visible. Comments are also welcome.

Font Project (typeface that relates to prompt)

"Less is More" Problem

Sign Problem Project (Visually depict the prompt of the sign)

Create your own sign prompt

Digital rendition of "Life and Death" (left side=life right side=death)

Same project but I wanted to try hand drawing the prompts

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Helpful Information from Geert Lovink's Presentation

Reclaim your facebook privacy

Openbook lets you search public Facebook updates using Facebook's own search service. (Here's more about it--read up and know how you're affected too.)

If you're going to commit virtual suicide (disconnect from online social networks), here are some sites to retrieve the information you've already put out there:
Give me my data
web 2.0 suicide machine

Here are some sites that aim to A) show you how "bad" closed-source social networks like facebook are or B) want you to become members of their open-source social network sites:
Virtual Suicide Club
No-FAcebook Dating (no FAD)
open source networks:
apple seed project

For all you artists out there who are looking for a way to generate money for your projects and for all you people who want to help support artists' projects:

So, I'll be letting you know when I have accounts with Flattr, Kickstarter, and Kachingle because I will so be needing help with future projects.

The Fall and Man’s Loss of Language

A theme that both underlines and rises to the surface in a number of philosophies of language is loss. The essay, “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man” by Walter Benjamin is no different. He begins by expounding on language through its materiality and metaphysical traits while exploring language’s mystical and magical qualities but he explicates greatly on creationism as language’s epistemology, which is where the concept of loss appears. Benjamin implies this loss on page 326, “The paradisiac language of man must have been one of perfect knowledge; whereas later all knowledge…was indeed forced to differentiate itself on a lower level.” The Fall removed man from the level of name language—the creative word—and the “human word” originated with the judgment of good and evil. Benjamin states that the composition of language comes from a three-part consequence of the Fall: language as a means—a mere sign that results in plurality; the magic of judgment; and the origin of abstraction.

The first part is the ramification of the paradisiac language of naming. Man, having lost his purity, over-named things so language became signs pointing to things as a means to communicate. “Language is in every case not only communication of the communicable but also, at the same time, a symbol of the noncommunicable” (Benjamin, 331). This communicating function of language is formed by the symbolic limits and the signs in which man extends through all of nature. According to Benjamin, over-naming through this communication of symbols and signs is a reflection of God. He says, “God gives each beast in turn a sign, whereupon they step before man to be named…the linguistic community of mute creation with God is thus conveyed in the image of the sign” (326). Multiplicity of languages resulted from the naming word falling short of the creative word of God. Man translated the signs into his own image because the Fall soiled the purity of name; with that Fall, man came into the “uncreated imitation of the creative word” (Benjamin, 327), the nameless knowledge of good and evil.

Part two of the Fall is the magic of judgment. Man did not name the judging word; rather, man sensed the judgment and identified good and evil with the Fall. “The tree of knowledge did not stand in the garden of God in order to dispense information on good and evil, but as an emblem of judgment over the questioner” (Benjamin, 328). Benjamin explains that Adam and Eve aroused the judging word when they were expelled from paradise thus originating the mythical form of law. Not only law though, this was where the idea of man having free will formed, which resulted in linguistic confusion. Man’s free will shook the foundation of signs because he contemplated the Fall and discovered guilt. The consequence of the Fall and judging words is multiplicity because the definition of good and evil transformed and translated. Judgment is rooted in double meaning so when Benjamin says, “The abstract elements in language…are rooted in judgment” (328) one can see how abstraction is the final stage of language resulting from the Fall.

In man’s attempt to expel abstraction from language an element of specific word formed. Benjamin recalls the melancholy of the linguistic being and it’s relation to language: “The overprecision that obtains in the tragic relationship between the languages of human speakers” (330). What happened is man used over-naming to define the self and in doing that defined all else in his own liking. When Benjamin speaks of the language of the arts (sculpture, painting, poetry), does he mean the language associated with the action of these arts or of the language that envelops the essence of these arts? He opens up the concept of spheres of language, which it self is abstract. Man attempted to grasp artistic forms and functions through the language of specificity but that essentially removed art from its nature and its own communication with the world of thought.

Benjamin says, “Man communicates himself to God through name” (331) but man named the nameless again and again until the meaning of the things have been divided and have become incommunicable. Does Benjamin bring to light his notion that language is incomplete and inexpressible because of man’s Fall from pure knowledge so the reader is merely aware of this state of loss, or is his reflection an attempt to further boost the spirituality of language? One could argue either but the result would most likely be that the two reasons coexistent.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Map of Online Communities

Geert Lovink: 10.25.10 Guest Speaker

I'm pretty excited about the speaker tonight, he's written a number of books that extrapolate on different aspects of the internet and networking. These are his books:

Zero Comments — Blogging and Critical Internet Culture (Routledge, 2007) In Zero Comments Geert Lovink upgrades worn-out concepts and inquires the latest Web 2.0 hype around blogs, wikis and social network sites. In this third volume of his studies into critical Internet culture, Lovink develops a ‘general theory of blogging.

Uncanny Networks — Dialogues with the Virtual Intelligentsia (MIT Press, 2002), a collection of interviews with new media artists, theorists and critics from East and West-Europe, USA and Asia who reflect on their concepts and practices. It provides a critical context of ideas, networks and artworks that have shaped the past decade.

My First Recession — Critical Internet Culture in Transition (V2-NAi, 2003, translated in Italian), contains essays on Internet theory, dotcom literature, the issue of moderation, lists, blogs and open publishing and case studies of three list communities: Syndicate (Deep Europe), Xchange (streaming media) and Oekonux (GPL society debate).

The Principle of Notworking — Concepts in Critical Internet Culture (AUP, 2005), inaugural speech at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam, february 2005, with three chapters on multitude, network and culture, the theory of free cooperation and the dawn of the organized networks. This booklet can be download here as a pdf (2.2 MB).

Dark Fiber – Tracking Critical Internet Culture (MIT Press, 2002, translated in German, Italian, Spanish, Romanian and Japanese) brings together texts about new media culture worldwide, with essays on The Digital City Amsterdam and nettime, data dandyism, tactical media strategies and early critiques of dotcommania.

I'll be purchasing Zero Comments and Dark Fiber

You can also check out his blog: net critique

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Media's affect on Politics

During Understanding Media Studies class on Monday October 18th, Dr. Christiane Paul gave a presentation on Media Art Politics. Specifically how new media art creates interventions between nation-state relationships with the common person, in regards to economic, political, and cultural conditions. Each art work involves one or more aspects of aesthetics, wreckage, counter-measures, intersections, agency and reconstruction, which results in the disturbance, reflection, or action in the world.

One student questioned whether the innovative media technology used in the projects have had direct affects on politics, specifically if the "common" artist or artist group has changed the political system or if there have been any legal ramifications due to the projects mentioned in the presentation. (Here's an interview with Dr. Paul about some of the projects from the presentation.)

Dr. Paul's answer said that new media art falls in a legal grey area and that the projects she presented do in fact create commentary about people's access to government information. She said that no one project has had a direct affect on politics but many of them, collectively, have created buzz in the system. I found an article on Mashable/Social Media that discusses the use of new media in this is a case where politicians have introduced the use of social media to win elections/spread their message. It's not directly related to Dr. Paul's theory that a desired state of understanding can be implemented through new media, it more reflects on the influence of media on politics.

Follow the link:

Social Media: The New Battleground for Politics

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meet my mediation with media

The purpose of this blog is simple. It's to be used as another resource for my Understanding Media Studies course at The New School. "Resource" really isn't the right word, I would say it's a new media forum for me to utilize as a means to post my assignments. Simple right? Yes. But I also think that's boring, so I'm going to also use this blog to promote interesting aspects of new media via videos, theories, graphics/designs, information about new art installations, media politics and links to just plain cool media stuff.

So with that, here's a video by Ze Frank that illustrates Procrastination, enjoy.