Friday, July 03, 2009

RIP! A Remix Manifesto Showing in Shreveport

Last week, Chris Jay of the Robinson Film Center and I hosted a screening of RIP! A Remix Manifesto. Our turnout was fantastic: around 50 folks came out to see this fantastic doc about Girl Talk, remix culture, and copyright law. I highly recommend the movie to folks who are lost about why copyright law matters and who might think it only effects folks who want to pirate copyrighted material.

Robert Trudeau wrote a very nice review on his blog.

We packaged some open source software to give to folks with some of the following tools:

Audio Production:



Saturday, April 18, 2009

Craig Baldwin at the Robinson Film Center

The following are some stream of consciousness notes from filmmaker Craig Baldwin's artist lecture at the Robinson Film Center on April 18, 2008. He's a wild ride to follow during a talk!

Craig Baldwin notes the connection between 16mm, the digital revolution and vernacular culture.

Craig showed us three clips from the 70's dimension: Three artists remixed found footage in "We Edit Life" a metatextual performance on digital remix production. Footage includes media producers, conductors an a symphony, computer users, Baldwin points out that abstraction isn't necessary and that using footage without digital manipulation serves the same pupose of deconstruction and analysis. All the footage was found in the dumpster.

The next sample comes from "outsider films" including military films, religious films, pornos, etc that get under theorized and under studied as important pieces of visual culture. We're looking at "Love Moods" I'm wondering how archiving constitutes "parsing" - in order to embody the sensibility of a certain genre? So there's no need for remix. By bringing these marginal films into a "non marginal" space we're remixing. What's outside the center is most interesting and tells us the most about mainstream culture - Baldwin draws on the image of the corona, which enables us to see the sun but isn't THE visual identifier of the sun.

The next sample, Baldwin describes as piece of couch potato culture "Life With Fear" including "Lightfoot Fever" which juxtaposes images of wild life a a performance of "Fever"

Next we look at a mashup series "TV Sherriff and the Trailbuddies" which is complete low sensibility tv show nonsense. The piece we watch is a fantastic audio and visual remix of all sorts of Jerry-related footage (Jerry Lewis, Jerry Springer, etc). They self describe as "remix television broadcasts into reconfigured gaucho style ape beats." The style really reminds me of Eclectic Method. Its eye candy you can dance/explode your brain to.

Craig Baldwin then turns to mashup megalith Negativland and he's produced a documentary about them: Sonic Outlaws. (Which I can't believe I haven't seen yet)

Peter Tscherkassky makes Lacan-esque hauntingly beautiful films:

Greta Snider's "Urine Man" personal diaries/documentary. Urine man wants you to google "urine cures bombshell" I think this film straddles voyeurism, taking advantage of a crazy person, and giving voices to the underrepresented. Its documentary kind of style films that put me in my most uncomfortable position, but also make me excited about digital media as a voicebox for democracy. At the same time, the film reminds me that democratic voices aren't always the best for contributing to cultural development (that's totally subjective - I'm at conflict re-reading my original thoughts a few days later on this piece).

Baldwin argues that cinema should not be overproduced researched market, but rather shorter works in enesembles, in microcinemas, backyards with political critique and history/political journalism. Taking it to another level of play, a bit of pop art.

Baldwin notes while discussing Tribulation 99 the dicotomy between right/left film's imagery: take language and iconography/fantasty associated with the right (fantasy, extravagance, sensationalism) and apply it to the left (which typically uses talking heads and less free image in documentary). Tribulation 99 is a pseudo-documentary about US intervention in Latin America. It mixes science fiction footage, fantastical narration, news reels, and crazy political title screens. Irrationality can be a useful political tools (racism, etc). Willingness to take things to extreme - relationship between van garde art and politics.

Compilation narrative take gestures and herd them into a new narrative. With Spectres of the Spectrum, Baldwin utilized action and science films to challenge the media environment which controls and perpetuates the popular mainstream. Kinescope images are used artifacts of the communications revolution as the history of the medium is embedded in these images.

What happens when popular mainstream culture recognizes these aesthetics and methods of commentary? Does underground culture then swing back into the high gloss production level to challenge the new aesthetic? What's the cheap point of entry in tools and methods of production that will allow us to challenge the co-option of vernacular culture (I'm thinking of tv shows that respond to tv viewer's reactions ala L Word, LOST).

Sometimes it feels like the archive just legitimizes conspicious consumption. I don't necessarily feel like remix or mashup adds enough to the larger dialogue about culture or challenges mainstream thought because of the co-option of these aesthetics and methods increasingly in popular culture. What do we do from here? Remix the remix? I have no idea. I think on avenue is to study the folk/non digital native response to new mediums, and utilize those methods in art production and design. What non-knowledgeable people do with new media and how that inform a revolution against the new mainstream (might also be useful UI/Design research)? Rather than focusing on artworks that are finished pieces or works that expose the underlying process, we need to see artwork is exemplifies the process. Perhaps something between the line of performance art and actual production methods. How can we encourage play and discover in the age of the database and instant informational satisfaction?

What I've learned from this lecture and comparing it with a recent lecture from DJ Spooky, is that when you're lecturing about remix and digital production its best to have complete control over the presentation environment (i.e., import your own footage on a computer, ask for control over lighting.) and do it yourself (and insist on doing it yourself at every venue).

I also like this interview with Baldwin for the super-informative-fantastic-free-badassed documentary Steal This Film:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Planning web site content development is difficult.

I'm working on a large scale website content development project and I'm slowly realizing that my method of cobbled together site-maps and word documents isn't functioning as robustly as I'd like. We're still in the planning phases, fleshing out what content is available currently for us to use and what content we need to develop and in the process I'm getting a really mucky and unusable text document. I really wish there was software to help manage the planning and creation process run more smoothly.

I'd like to see software made for web designers that enables more flexible content strategy development. Here's some initial thoughts:
  • Flexible site map development which can be connected to drafts of content broken down by pages or sectional content/modules. If the site map is restructured, content follows pages/modules associated with site map objects. Granular/modular restructuring is what I'd really like to see.
  • Change tracking in drafts of content in a non-obtrusive way (ie. view most recent draft, view with content changes from specific collaborators, etc.)
  • To dos for researching content that's needed (i.e., product selling points, supportive images and references, resources to link to from content, etc.) including the ability to assign those tasks to particular members of a team
  • Associating drafts of content with other informational assets such as images, tabular data, forms, etc.
I'm sure there are software packages or web applications that provide this functionality out there, so leave them in the comments! I'd also love to hear about your workflow for creating content before a site is launched.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Inauguration from all sorts of angles

Lots of interesting digital photography of the inauguration is popping up all over. Here's two of my favs:

David Bergman shot a 1,474-Megapixel Photo of President Obama's Address. The detail is simply astonishing.

We never have seen an image like the one Chuck Kennedy from the McClatchy-Tribune Photo Service got with a remote camera positioned near the speaker's podium.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Life update.

There's been quite a bit going on for me professionally over the past few months:
  • I've been hired as the first and only creative-centric brain at Praeses doing web and graphic design. Mostly I build user-centric, accessible, standards based fancy websites and deploy content manged systems through open source projects like Joomla and Dot Net Nuke. I'm surrounded by very smart developers who I feel right at home with. I'm doing much more design-oriented work than I had when freelancing; however, doing quite a bit of work with Joomla! Most recently I deployed Joomla! along with a hotel booking engine for the Independence Bowl.
  • I'm teaching an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink web design course at Centenary this semester. Information about the course and my students' work is available. I'm trying to infuse an open source mentality in the course, so all the materials except the books for the course will be available through the website. Its an honor to teach at my alma mater for a semester!
Outside that, I just bought my first car, our dog Bowser is growing tall and my husband Chris is becoming a community correspondent with Red River Radio.

UX vs. XD

My colleague Travis Stiles ponders the distinction between UX and XD:
Certainly the practice of UX or XD can vary and anyone calling themselves an “XD” can practice user-centered design, but my goal here is to define the implicit value and meaning in both terms and how that might affect the use and context of each.
Its got my brain turning on something I've been thinking about since I've heard the term "experience design." I've always thought about XD in terms of art making and installation work, which for many artists puts the cart before the horse. There's an idea or aesthetic you'd like to explore and while participation is key in that experience, "getting it" isn't necessarily the primary goal. Definitely a useful distinction that I'm looking forward to hearing more about!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Man badly beaten in Shreveport for wearing Obama t-shirt

Via my good friend Versha, I found out a very great member of the Shreveport for Obama team, Kaylon Johnson was involved in a horrific beating this Saturday:

On Saturday night at a gas station in Shreveport, he was accosted by two white males who were yelling racial slurs, incensed by the Obama bumper stickers on Kaylon's car and the Obama t-shirt Kaylon was wearing. He waved them off, but when he came out of the gas station, they jumped on him.

Kaylon was badly beaten and has sustained several head injuries. He will have surgery on Friday to repair a broken eye socket, broken nose, and torn tear duct.