In the lab today we graded ourselves for the 30% participation. I gave myself a Distinction because when grading myself in a situation like that, while I might want the HD grade, I can’t bring myself to grade it to myself. So, why did I give myself a D? Well, for the first 8 weeks of semester I was very much on top of things. I attended all the lectures, did all the readings in advance and posted blog entries as often as possible. I deserve an HD for that. But, from week 8 to 12 I petered out. I posted less on the blog, I attended fewer lectures and only caught up on some of them via audio recordings. I spent more time working on the major project than keeping my evidence of participation up. So I figured I should lower my score to a D.
But thinking back on it now, I was on top of things for more than half of the semester. So maybe that does deserve an HD. Too late now I guess.
I haven’t been updating much as I’ve been very busy with doing the major assessment, work and my international guest all at once. For the first few weeks the project was looking not-so-great, but we’ve really pulled everything together this last week and we’re on schedule according to the Gantt chart. We’ve got 60 videos all up that we’re going to plug into Korsakow in class this afternoon. I’ve got half of them already but I need to SNUify the rest. Eric has made the bulk of them, as per our Project Management notes. Vanessa has made the backgrounds so the interface should be good.
I’ve also made a start on the essay. I created a Google Doc to share our notes. I’ve written 1000 words of draft ideas so far. Vanessa will take that and build upon it, as essay-writing is a large part of her contribution (per her request).
So all that’s left of the K-Film itself should be the final stages of putting it all together before exporting. This time I want to publish it on the web well before the due date to make sure it’s all good. Everything else is much simpler to hand in.
Today my group formulated our project outline. I put everything necessary together on a Google document, viewable here (if you have an RMIT account).
Our proposition is looking to be, “How are our experiences defined by different stages of life?” with a working title of “Experience.”
I made two videos from the exercise in last week’s lab, but only one is worth sharing. It was around the word ‘Identity’ and is about the game MATCH that young kids/early teens (mostly girls) play to determine their future life. I think it’s a good example of capturing a stage of life without having people in it in that stage currently.
Today’s lab is all about brainstorming for our major K-films. Number one problem: I am the only member of my group in the lab. OK, what do I do?
So, last week, I joined my group after the other two members had already decided they wanted to use the prompt “Life is…” and that they wanted to vaguely show a progression, like have videos of babies and kids and so on. I took these ideas and formulated them into a plan for a narrative-ish structure. Daniel, in the assessment review session this morning, talked about his first K-film and his attempt to make it narrative-ish by using POCs in a progression, a series of numbers. I have attempted the same sort of thing but the POCs will be a bit different.
Seth played devil’s advocate just now to try to understand my concept. I explained that I was trying to structure the major work with the limitations I was given by my group. There will be four themes — baby, child, teen and adult — and each of those themes will have a varying number of videos with half as many POCs. So, for example, there will be 8 ‘baby’ videos with 4 POCs. ‘Child’ has 12 videos, 6 POCs. There are two POCs between ‘baby’ and ‘child’ that will be the same, so that they can cross over. ‘Teen’ has 18 videos, 9 POCs. There are three POCs between ‘child’ and ‘teen’ that will be the same, so that they can cross over. But ‘teen’ and ‘baby’ have no common POCs so can never directly cross over. ‘Adult’ has 22 videos with 11 POCs. There are four POCs between ‘teen’ and ‘adult’ that are the same, so they can cross over. But ‘adult’ and ‘child’ and ‘adult’ and ‘baby’ have no common POCs so can never directly cross over. In this way, the K-film is vaguely filtering from ‘baby’ to ‘adult’ but with a few back and forths.
Does this make sense?
The reason that I want to stick with this idea and make all of the videos relate to either ‘baby,’ ‘child,’ ‘teen,’ or ‘adult’ is because it can only go one of two ways: a) we will succeed in making a narrative-ish structured K-film, or b) we will not. And since our chosen essay prompt is, “A K-film is not very good at making stories with clear direction, what Barthes would describe as ‘work,’ but is ideal for making videos that make visible Barthes’ idea of ‘text,’” we will easily be able to write an essay either agreeing with this statement or refuting it.
So there will be 60 videos about what “Life is…” and hopefully they will relate to experiences had by babies, children, teens and adults — people in various stages of life. I don’t believe we need to literally show babies in our videos. There are other ways of conveying these ideas than just filming a baby or a child straight up. And if we can make videos that convey these ideas of life stages and the experiences that are unique to them or that crossover with other life stages, we can hopefully put them together into a holistic K-film. And if we fail, we can talk about why that happened.
Adrian only briefly touched on Fluxus in the lecture today, but I wanted to talk a little more about it so I have given it its own post.
Fluxus is a really interesting art movement. The reason it came up in the lecture is because it relates to the ideas explored in this course. Adrian described Fluxus as art that is like Barthes’ idea of ‘text’ because it is made up of instructions and recipes, ways of doing. It is an art movement that asks for the consumer to engage. There is no monument to view, to simply consume, but rather it tells you how to create art separately. It is a game.
Quite a few years ago I had the privilege to visit the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary art in Gateshead, England. It is my favourite contemporary art museum in the world. (I’ve also been to MoMA, Museum Brandhorst, Pinakothek der Moderne, the Tate, Sydney MCA, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, but the BALTIC is undeniably the best in my humble opinion. However, I am dying to visit Mona in Tasmania.) The first time I went there it had two exhibitions showing. One was Yoko Ono’s Between the Sky and My Head, which was only shown in two galleries in the whole world, and a retrospective of Fluxus, which Yoko Ono was a part of in the 1960s. It included a lot of Fluxus works, instruction booklets, videos and so on, by a wide range of artists. What I realised in today’s lecture, though, is that the BALTIC turned the ‘text’ into ‘work’ inadvertently. The point of Fluxus is to be ‘text’ and for the consumer to engage in the work. That is the whole message of the medium, it’s very much rooted in DIY. Fluxus artists made do with what was available to them and they were, in a way, anti-art (which could be taken as anti-’work’).
Yet, the curators at the BALTIC placed all of the booklets in glass cases. The paintings were mounted on the walls to be viewed. The videos were in small rooms to watch — videos of interactive art, like Ono’s brilliant Cut Piece. The curators had taken a movement that was all ‘text’ and removed the agency that was given to the consumer by the artists. I didn’t realise this at the time at all. I didn’t even question it.
In hindsight, this surprises me about the BALTIC because the thing that I like the most about it is that it utilises its space so well. It used to be a flour mill until it was converted into a five-storey art space. Artists are invited in to create exhibitions however they see fit. The Fluxus exhibition was ineffective because it was not its own art form. It was just a collection of stuff. The other exhibitions I have seen there were extremely effective and could be seen as ‘text’ completely. The best was Yoko Ono’s Between the Sky and My Head. It featured two floors of Ono’s art that she arranged to her liking. The first floor was her older stuff and was simply arranged to be consumed, but the second floor was designed to engage with. It involved installations and interactive works. The two most relevant to this course — to the theory of ‘text’ — are Wish Tree and My Mommy is Beautiful which invited guests to the museum to write their wishes on paper and tie them to the wish trees and to write or draw something about their mothers on the wall provided. Ono herself had been through the room and written messages on the walls in various places. It was the most spectacular art exhibition I’d ever been to.
I’ve been to the BALTIC since then and I saw Robert Breer’s retrospective exhibition. He died during its showing at the museum, but he did have a large hand in putting it together and, again, utilising the space provided. He uses a lot of mediums, but the most interesting for me were the moving sculptures. Breer had built sculptures on very small motors that moved around the room, but you wouldn’t have noticed just by looking at them. The sculptures moved so slowly that most people noticed they were moving because they looked away. You might go into a room to view an animation for a little while and then when you come out again, suddenly the dividing wall is on the other side of the room. It was very entertaining to watch all of this go on and I think it’s another fun example of ‘text.’
The lecture today was really interesting and got me thinking about movements like Fluxus and their modern equivalents, like Korsakow. I have been in a jarring state of anxiety over the last few months and struggling with my creative identity and finding a purpose or direction for my life and my creation and art. Lately I’ve been starting to think about a desire to utilise new media forms, interactivity and available medium. This lecture kind of helped me to cement — or maybe not cement, but start sticky-taping together — ideas about the kinds of things I want to make. One of Barthes’ points in his From Work to Text is about pleasure in consumption. Adrian explained that pleasure is where the gap between the consumer and the art dissolves which puts the consumer’s identity at risk. This struck a chord with me a bit because this has always been the sort of art I’ve wanted to create. I am moved by the things that change me, that introduce me to new ideas or phrase for me things I already knew but couldn’t articulate. The art that I love is the art that reshapes my identity. This is the sort of stuff I want to be doing. I want to use a variety of mediums to say things that are important to me while allowing the consumer to reshape what I say into meanings that are important to them. Like Korsakow, like Fluxus, I want to make things that are multi-directional and multi-purposeful, things that strive to have a plurality of meaning because art only ever should have that. I want to wilfully and joyfully embrace mediums in my art. All I’ve got to work out now is where to start.
Today’s lecture was very useful in regards to the essay prompt my group has chosen for the major assessment — “A K-Film is not very good at making stories with clear direction, what Barthes would describe as ‘work,’ but is ideal for making videos that make visible Barthes’ idea of ‘text.’” I took a lot of notes and I think what I write here I’ll probably revisit later when writing my portion of the essay.
So, the first point that I took down was that work, or art or whatever it is that you create, doesn’t come out of nowhere. As Adrian said, there are always relationships to other things. His example was in new media, in the sense that new websites aren’t just completely new, they always go back to other things and the rise of trends and so on. In a way, everything is kind of open source. Adrian’s argument was that this makes things ‘text’ as Barthes describes. Traditionally, the author is seen as the father or owner of the work, and his (or her, sigh) declared intention is what is considered important. Adrian described this as a romanticised idea of creativity and that it’s the whole point of Barthes’ essay; ‘text’ is not like ‘work.’
However, ‘text’ is not better than ‘work’ nor vice-versa. Rather, they both matter and they are both important today. It is just important to understand the differences and perhaps also that ‘text’ is maybe what we really need right now. Because ‘work’ is about consumption. You do not ‘play’ with ‘work,’ you just consume it straight up. In contrast, ‘text’ is always changing and unfolding and you engage with it directly.
This is where Barthes best connects with Korsakow. Korsakow films have, as Adrian explained, no beginning or end. They are just middle. For a Korsakow film to just be you must engage with it. Otherwise it is not even art at all, it is not giving you anything. You cannot be a passive consumer with a medium like Korsakow. This is almost exactly what Barthes is talking about. Korsakow is ‘text’ at its core. There is never a clear direction with Korsakow and so therefore it can’t be a ‘work.’ Even if the creator has a declared intention, because the media itself is always different, how can that intention always be the same? The consumer decides what the film means because the consumer decides what the film even is.
The best quote form Barthes’ essay to sum up this idea is, “The theory of Text can coincide only with a practice of writing.” ‘Text’ is all about practice, it’s about doing. A Korsakow film requires interactivity. It is, as Korsakow proclaims itself, dynamic storytelling. Adrian said that text links everything wilfully and joyfully, that it embraces its medium. A Korsakow film is a perfect example of that. It makes connections that appear unclear and perhaps sometimes erratic, but it gives the consumer a unique experience of their own design. The consumer and the creator are collaborating without even realising it.
Again, no lightbulb moments this week. I did the reading two weeks ago but I haven’t blogged about it so far, as I was busy doing the first assessment. I’m also busy freaking out about the next assessment which is pretty darn full on and other personal things that are happening next week and I’ve been planning for all summer. So anyway, excuses aside, here are the notes I took.
My K-Film, titled Change.
This essay is a written description of the Korsakow film I created for the course Integrated Media 1. The outline for this assessment was to create a ‘self-portrait’ K-Film. I will explain here what effect I was trying to achieve with the text used in my K-Film as well as how I conceived the structure of my work. I argue that it is successful because its theme is coherent and consistent. I will finally sum up what I believe is the most important thing I learnt while doing this task.
The theme in which I have structured my Korsakow film around is ‘Change’ and coping with that change. I did not set out with this theme in mind; rather I found it in the sketch videos themselves. When we were set 30-second videos to create each week, I made do with what was available to me. Instead of creating monuments, I used my point-and-shoot digital camera and mostly filmed around my home. When viewing my videos later to brainstorm, I realised that the strongest message coming out of them was that they were the result of being in a new environment.
My new environment was Yarraville. I moved into a new house at the end of last year. Even my own bedroom featured new furniture and gave me an opportunity to express myself as I am now and start with a fresh canvas. When I created the weekly video sketches, I unconsciously created a running theme of things that were familiar to me and things that were unfamiliar to me. The contrast was clear in my eyes when I looked at all 15 videos as a whole. With this view, I went back and linked up the videos that I could see already had connections. The text flowed from there.
I elected to keep my K-Film simple. I chose 640 x 360 resolution so as to offer a glimpse, not an overbearing screen size. This is to embrace the nature of the video sketches themselves; ready-to-hand, made for sharing. They are small, short. I have kept the background black, the text white and small within the Verdana font family. The reason for this is to keep it easily readable, sanserif and adaptable for the web. I kept the descriptions short. I wanted the videos to tell the message and the text to just add the extra hint in determining the connections. All of the text relates to the theme of ‘change’ and often alludes to what is familiar and what is unfamiliar, or what is old and what is new. For example, in the video ‘Square,’ which was filmed around my home, the text reads, ‘Exploring my new surroundings with a purpose.’ This is straightforward. For the ‘Red’ video, however, the text reads, ‘I did not know the knife was blunt,’ which is a little more subtle.
Some of the videos do not fit so easily into ‘Old’ and ‘New.’ The middle keyword that links these two together is ‘Changing.’ The video about ‘Me’ and the video about ‘Outside’ are two examples of this. For ‘Me,’ I wrote, ‘I know who I used to be,’ to illustrate how you only know your own past, not your future. Change is uncertain and can be frightening. Sometimes what is in the past can be more comforting and you can look at your memories perhaps more fondly than you should. The text for ‘Outside’ reads, ‘Maybe things aren’t always how you remember them,’ which deals with this idea. This is an expansion on the theme of ‘Change.’ It is about looking back on the events that have led me to be who I am now, learning what was the catalyst for that change.
I think that my work is successful in creating connections. If not always completely clear in its connection to the video, the text deals with the same theme throughout and is relatively coherent in that regard. Perhaps my shortcomings are linking text to video; text to text may be simple, but what I see in the visual may not be what the average viewer can discern. This is something I have struggled with in the past. What makes this project different is that I didn’t create the flow from the beginning and instead had to use what was at my disposal already. I think, in some ways, this made my piece more effective, as it flowed more naturally.
Using a program like Korsakow has been an interesting experience as it has allowed me to adapt to a new way of thinking and creating. The format of a K-Film is unique and encourages the artist to find connections in things, rather than make them. I think this is a very valuable exercise and allows for growth in that kind of viewing. It’s almost like the analytical melding with the creative all at once. It’s a wonderful fusion of tacit and explicit knowledge, where tacit knowledge is creating the Small Narrative Units within Korsakow while explicit knowledge is choosing the appropriate Points of Contact.
My K-Film is titled ‘Change’ to help the viewer understand what I was trying to say and the effect I was trying to achieve. I conceived the structure of my work to be coherent and consistent, which I believe makes it a successful piece. In doing this task, I learnt that connections can be found and not just made. In the end, however, it doesn’t really matter what the artist was trying to say. It’s up to the viewer to decide what the art is about.