Friday, September 28, 2012

The Many Colors of Dance...

This week we were asked whether we thought we could combine new-media with traditional media and still achieve aesthetically pleasing results.  Well, my answer is yes.  This idea of combining new and old media isn’t something that has just recently been discovered.  People have been combining these things for years, the process is simply more apparent in today’s society because of the use of technology such as the internet.  Some artists today have captured this combination idea quite brilliantly.  I was personally intrigued by JR's photography, but Laura Randall and Hector Parra really impressed me with their clever opera based on the theoretical idea of another dimension.

For my own media project, I want to use the theme of boundary-dissolution.  We used this theme a couple weeks ago but were required to work with sound.  This time I want to use myself and my movement to show the dissolution of the boundary between painting and dance.  I will be the paint brush, my movement will be the brush strokes, and the floor will be my canvas.  This idea came to me after watching one of William Kentridge’s videos in which he filmed himself smearing paint over a canvas.  However, he played it in reverse, turning it into a completely different piece of art.  This got me thinking of my own camera and the features it has, such as the ability to take out all colors but one.  From there, my train of thought moved to the many ways in which I could use color to “mix up” my current idea, and I came up with the notion to use the colors to represent the genres of dance that I am studying (blue being ballet and yellow being contemporary dance).  Using this feature on my camera, I could then go on to film myself dancing on a canvas, painting with my feet, becoming the “paintbrush” rather than just a dancer.  I also thought of how I could carry over the theme of boundary-dissolution into my dancing and discovered that I could show the dissolution between ballet and contemporary.  Even if one is classical (or blue) and one is modern (or yellow), they’re still a way of expressing emotion through movement (green).  Although a dancer might focus on one “color” more than another, in the end, it’s still movement (blue + yellow = green).

So next week I will actually be creating this composition rather than just simply planning it.  Because I believe that traditional media and new media can be combined and still be pleasing to the eye, I will be striving to do so in my project as well.  If anyone has suggestions or would like to talk about how I could improve my project or even make it easier to accomplish, I’m open to anything.  I’ll also be gathering supplies (a decent sized canvas, blue and yellow paint, and old used pointe shoes) as well as more inspiration if any comes my way.  I have a video here that shows where my original idea evolved from as well as a closer look at what I’ll be attempting to accomplish.

After I film my painting from a few different angles, I’m going to piece it together with some more effects such as slow motion or reverse (we’ll see what I decide to play around with) and experiment with different music overlaid on top.  Hopefully I’ll get it done in a timely manner and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I will!

(BTW, feel free to check out my new Google Profile at!!)

Friday, September 21, 2012

What Does Facebook Mean to You?

With the new age of technology that we are surrounded by, many of our connections are made online.  Social networking sites like Facebook allow us to keep in touch with friends and family all over the world at anytime.  However, these social sites are used in many different ways.  There are those who use Facebook rarely, and there are those who are always engrossed in something, whether it is posting on someone's wall or uploading pictures. I personally just use my Facebook for things like DMA, keeping in touch with friends I've met at summer ballet intensives, or keeping up with my closest friends from back home.  Other than that, it simply serves as something to do when I want to waste time.

Now, most people know about “friending” people on Facebook, but as the network has grown, so have the numbers of friends.  I myself have over 700 friends, but do I know every single one of them?  No.  So yes, I agree with Robin Dunbar and his belief that a max of 150 friends is very reasonable; however, I don’t think it’s ideal. In everyday life, we may keep in touch with 10-20 close friends, and might personally know 150, but we also have innumerable acquaintances that we interact with. This being said, 150 is reasonable, but having more is acceptable too.  As a member of Facebook, I sometimes find myself feeling obligated to “friend” somebody simply because I met them once or because we have X-number of mutual friends.  In cases like these, it is possible to have more friends, but after a while you can have too many.

On the topic of relationships, things can get even more complicated. From personal experience, online relationships can be extremely different from offline ones.  Facebook serves as a safety net. It is much easier to talk on Facebook, or text, than it is in person at times, simply because Facebook allows time for second thoughts, or revisions to what we want to say.  With this said, being “proficient” in an online conversation does not mean you will be “proficient” in an offline one.  In my opinion, people spend so much time nowadays chatting or IM-ing people that it is affecting their real social skills.  So with that thought in mind, is Facebook really a good thing anymore?  Or is it simply there for the connections it gives us?

So for my project this week, I created a Prezi.  This website is one of the coolest I’ve ever worked with.  It’s a place that can create zooming power point presentations, and it is also a public site meaning that any work done on the site can be shared, borrowed, reused, etc...  (Definitely a place for cultivating creativity!)  I chose to depict the theme of connectivity through Facebook because of the many ways it can be used.  The presentation practically speaks for itself.  Overall, it turned out great (even though I ran into technical troubles and had to recreate it twice).  I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, September 14, 2012

When Boundaries Dissolve...

Donna Haraway wrote that “we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.”  In these past few days I've realized how true this is, and I think it's kinda cool. If you think about how dependent we are on technology it can be somewhat overwhelming at first. Eyeglasses, pencils, cell phones, computers, radios, air conditioning, lights....the list goes on and on! Name one business man that is not attached to some type of electronic that tells him what's happening here and now. New media, whether we like it or not, is at the core of boundary-dissolution.  In fact, new media can also act as a catalyst in this dissolving process.

However, privacy and copyright laws have trouble staying up to speed with changes in new media.  Personal privacy has not completely become a thing of the past, but the lack of privacy on the internet in this day and age is appalling. People have the ability to post practically anything on websites. It’s almost becoming expected for privacy to be overlooked.  I do think there's still some hope though.  With social media sites such as Facebook or Google+, people can choose their privacy settings, therefore this privacy issue can be a decision. I think that most people simply overlook the settings because they want to go ahead and get to the fun stuff (uploading pics, chatting, etc). So in saying this, I think that privacy in this new media age is possible and really does matter, but it will be a conscious choice, rather than a common expectation.

Anyway you look at it, when boundaries disappear or shift, they are not gone forever.  New ones are bound to take their place (pardon the pun) simply because that is how order is kept.  If boundaries were to dissolve completely, what would we be left with besides a jumbled mess of misunderstandings?

Being required to work in sound this week was something of a challenge for me.  I’m not usually one to willingly mix and remix songs in my free time, and finding two that worked together was quite difficult.  I cannot count the number of songs I layered in attempt to find something that worked with pitch and tempo.  I even went as far as to try mixing the Imperial March from Star Wars with Come Together by the Beatles.  (And if you’re wondering, no, it didn’t work.  At all.)  I knew I wanted to try to mix songs that were polar opposites, so I started with numerous piano melodies by Michele McLaughlin only to find that none of the upbeat songs I had would match up.  After multiple fails, I finally decided to try layering Vivaldi’s The Storm with an upbeat song I had from a drill team camp.  To my surprise, it fit perfectly with only a few alterations to the beginning.  It was my ideal translation of a cyborg through music - the classical music representing us as humans and the upbeat music representing the technology that consumes us.

Overall, it turned out better than I expected, and I must say that I am proud of my newfound amateur DJ skills.  I might even decide to play around with music mixing more in the future.  

Friday, September 7, 2012

"Is Art Off Limits?"

No one can truly stifle art, but I do think that creativity is being hindered in today's world. In the past, creativity was greatly encouraged, but nowadays the arts struggle to gain support in some places in the world. However, where it is allowed to flourish, creativity is able to expand in ways beyond our wildest dreams and much of this is made possible through the free sharing of media.  I don’t see this form of sharing as stealing either.  It seems to me as though artists have merely complained about their work being “stolen” for the cash benefits they receive.  In RiP! A Remix Manifesto, Girl Talk made a very clear point when he said that it has become more about the money than the simple enjoyment of making music/art.  Wealth is no longer “in the products of the mind” but in the hands of the copyrighters.  These laws have been entirely manipulated for profit, and it is in turn hindering our ability to create and discover as artists.  

Now, I can understand groups such as the Balanchine Trust, which preserves and upholds the choreography put forth by George Balanchine in the twentieth century.  In order to perform and/or film Balanchine choreography, one must first gain permission from the Trust.  This, to me, seems reasonable, given the fact that his work is being preserved and not withheld.  Unlike the restrictions of copyright laws, the protection of Balanchine’s work still serves as an outlet for inspiration and creativity.  People can freely see and experience his works and create new movements based on his creations, but there will never be an exact replica.

With so many advances in technology, the amount of software sharing has skyrocketed.  Though some may see this as alarming, I see it as no surprise.  For ages, people have found ways of creating “labor saving devices.”  We are a progressive human race that is always striving for efficiency, and the sharing of media simply enhances that ability.  After reading through Jonathan Lethum’s article and watching RiP!, I have come to believe that rather than slowing down this growing process, we should embrace this new “copyleft” culture that has come up and charge full speed into the next era of artistic creativity.

For this week's project, I chose to “remediate” a dance on fluidity.  A girl had filmed this dance, and I chose to take her concept and translate it into a still photo.  Working with her original composition rather than something I had created on my own was different but still fun to do.  It gave me the opportunity to expound upon her original idea and recreate it into my own piece of art, while still portraying fluidity.

I wasn’t quite sure how to go about capturing a video in a single still shot at first.  I began to list things that could be considered “fluid.”  The list in my head started to grow from expected things such as water to more uncommon sights such as fabric.  While I thought about these options, I decided to take my camera and walk around campus.  It turns out the Franklin Institute wasn’t joking when they said that walking can “clear your head” and help you think better.  As I walked around, I found the images I needed to portray my version of fluidity.  The first was a giant leaf outside the commons.  The curves of the leaf mimicked the way a waterfall might flow over a ledge, and the veins within the leaf simply added to this similarity.  After snapping a few shots of the plant, I kept walking around to see if I found anything else that might parallel the girl’s dance.  I found a small shallow stream where I found a more “cliche” picture of fluidity.  This stream fit the girl’s concept almost more closely than the leaf.  She had talked about feeling as though she was underwater when she danced, and this snapshot was almost a perfect visual of how it might be to move underwater.  After finding the pictures I needed, I debated molding them into a collage, but after thorough contemplation, I decided they were powerful enough on their own.

Overall, I think this week's assignment was a success, and I learned a lot more than I expected to.  I hadn’t realized that the battle with copyright was such an intense one, but after reading through the conceptual material and learning other people’s viewpoints on the issue, I am ready to discover even more in the weeks to come.