Monthly Archives: May 2012
Assessment #2 Essay: The concept of ‘work’ and ‘text’ provides a way to think about the possible differences between traditional film and video, and the possibilities that a K-film offers.
May 28, 2012 – 5:06 pm
The concept of ‘work’ and ‘text’ provides a way to think about the possible differences between traditional film and video, and the possibilities that a K-film offers.
The Korsakow film, His Long Goodbye (2012) adheres to Barthes notion of ‘text’ whilst simultaneously referencing traditional film noir ‘works’ in the video sketches and the construction of the interface. In this sense, traditional film and video form as ‘works’ in comparison to the Korsakow film that forms as ‘text.’ It is necessary to acknowledge how the meaning of the text is reliant on traditional filmic works to illustrate the possibilities that the Korsakow film presents. His Long Goodbye features allusions to the traditional Classical Hollywood genre of film noir. These allusions are evident in the opening page, video content, the sound and the position of four thumbnails and main SNU. His Long Goodbye employs Classical Hollywood filmic techniques to illustrate the differences between traditional film and video and the possibilities that a K-film offers. In particular, illustrating how traditional and more passive viewing experiences of works have been transcended by the Korsakow text that offers viewers with autonomy to generate their own narrative structure and infer their own meanings from the film’s interface. Moreover, it is necessary to look at the differences in editing techniques. As opposed to utilizing continuity editing affiliated with traditional works, the Korsakow film adheres to David Shields’ notion of ‘collage’. Through the manipulation of traditional film and video practices in His Long Goodbye, the K-film demonstrates the ways in which these well-established cinematic aspects can be incorporated in a more user-focused context.
Traditional film and video do not offer the user the wheel, in fact, for the most part they do not even offer the user a spin in the driver’s seat; they present fragments arranged perfectly into a whole by the creators, and leave nothing but perhaps a little interpretation to the user (however this interpretation has usually been the effect of a rigid and carefully manipulated structure of events). They may have been arranged with a particular response in mind, however the viewer does not necessarily have to dig very deep for this meaning. Where Korsakow is involved, the creators simply provide multiple combinations of the one story or idea that is divided into fragmented shorts; it then becomes the viewers’ role to create the order, and therefore, their own meaning of the shorts. As Shields argues, “in collage, writing is stripped of the pretense of originality, and appears as a practice of mediation, of selection and contextualisation, a practice, almost, of reading” (point 334, 2011). Humans are inherently pattern-making machines. It’s in our nature; the K-film project only allows us to really “understand” this, and perhaps even manipulate it through the presentation of our work.
His Long Goodbye aims to manipulate the aesthetics of traditional film and video, namely those pertaining to the genre of film noir, and almost “modernise” them; taking the parts that make up the whole of the genre that is film noir, and placing these fragmented puzzle pieces in the hands of the user, awaiting interpretation. After all, it is the logic of the “thing” that lies in the parts. Shields uses the analogy of a mosaic to illustrate this notion, stating that “a mosaic, made out of broken dishes, makes no attempt to hide the fact that it’s made out of broken dishes, in fact flaunts it” (point 333, 2011). Despite the overall “meaning” of the K-film being the result of the reading of the parts, the films make no attempt to conceal this. This notion is particularly “flaunted” (as Shields would put it) in having previews in plain sight of the user; the K-film makes no attempt to hide that is made up of differing parts and pieces, that when put together reflect the light of different meanings, just as a mosaic made of broken dishes might.
His Long Goodbye essentially aims to break the fourth wall in terms of cinematic viewing; users should be aware of what they’re watching, and that they are in control of discerning meaning. The K-film is intended to be cinematic, but at the same time staying true to the many connections that Korsakow offers. This is predominantly presented through the allusions made to traditional cinematic notions of viewing in the Korsakow film and how these viewing experiences can now function in new online contexts. We have taken motifs and notions that were created specifically for the silver screen and have placed them in a new, online context. While traditional film and video have a pre-determined structure, Korsakow allows the possibility for scenes to be broken down and rearranged in whatever way the user chooses. His Long Goodbye draws attention to this by creating a cinematic aesthetic through using traditional filmic techniques from film noir, but placing all of the power of creating meaning in the hands of our inherently pattern-making users.
It’s important to consider the propositions that our project makes; we like to see it as a case study in danger, seduction and nostalgia. Furthermore, perhaps it prompts the user to think about the distinctions between past and present and between reality and style.
The four thumbnails present at the bottom of the screen are metaphorical of the audiences’ active viewing experiences and also construct thematic commonalities between our sixty-three videos. The thumbnails attempt to resemble a 4:3 aspect ratio typically used in Classical Hollywood cinema. Whilst this references the traditional screen sizes of films, the smaller scale thumbnails convey how traditional notions of screen and forms of viewing have changed towards a smaller and more interactive experience reflected through programs such as Youtube. Each thumbnail categorises the clips presented. These categories are inferred from the thumbnails and surround the traditional conventions used in film noir such as angles, domestic spaces, shadows (chiaroscuro), movement, nature, nighttime, sexy, shadows and voyeuristic techniques.
The thumbnails are attached to the main SNU indicating how viewing experiences are now interactive as opposed to passive. It demonstrates how framing has progressed from consisting of one 4:3 screen positioned in the entirety of a room (referenced through the size of our main SNU) to consisting of multiple frames within a frame. This is reinforced by Manovich (2001) who states that “in cinema, the frame presents a partial view of a larger space. [Conversely in contemporary online forms of cinema] the virtual camera moves around to reveal different parts of this space. Of course, the camera is now controlled by the user and in fact is identified with his/her own sight”. In this sense, the audiences of His Long Goodbye are now granted access to see all footage on the screen. The multiple screens positioned in the centre of His Long Goodbye are successful in offering the viewer the opportunity to interactively engage with all of the parts of the space on screen.
The sketch videos that make up the K-film His Long Goodbye use motifs and techniques borrowed from the traditional Hollywood genre of film noir. Our films were inspired by recurring motifs in film noir, including venetian blinds, the manipulation of light and dark, fog, cigarettes, voyeurism, sharp angles and mirrors. All videos that we produced are in black and white and have been edited so that the films are of high contrast.
One element that His Long Goodbye could have executed better was the video sketches. Given the Korsakow film was adopting conventions from traditional films that usually require large-scale sets, it was impossible to construct large-scale sets without proper equipment and finances. We instead turned to improvisation, filming things that we thought appropriate that we had at hand. In terms of de Certeau’s writing (1988), we were “making do” with the opportunities we had to film at hand. Many of the films were filmed in the comfort of our own homes, or on streets nearby to our houses. Only some of the films were constructed, and these usually simply involved the strategic placement of an object or a person for only a few seconds. de Certeau writes of “tactics” as being “dependent upon the possibilities offered by circumstances” but those which “do not obey the law of place, for they are not defined or identified by it” (1988, p.29). The K-films that make up His Long Goodbye are indeed tactics, as they “make do” with the objects and surroundings of the makers’ immediate spaces, thus emphasising the “possibilities offered by circumstances”.
However, this did become a form of limitation in terms of the aesthetic power of our films. We believe that if we did have access to more appropriate spaces, or perhaps even better filming equipment, our films would have been more “obviously” borrowing genre models from film noir. Despite this setback, we were successful in de Certeau’s eyes for “making do” with what we had at hand. We must simply rely on the fact that what we have done is enough in terms of allowing the users to understand what genre we are drawing inspiration from.
The male voice over narration included in His Long Goodbye forms as an element of ‘work’ that references traditional film and video, offering the K-film a continuous narrative for viewers to infer meaning from. However, in conjunction with the video sketches it presents His Long Goodbye as a ‘text’. The voice over forms as ‘work’ given the narrative tells a story that is bound by cause and effect; it is continuous and logical. Furthermore, the voice over attempts to mimic the voice-overs heard in traditional noir films works such as The Big Sleep (1946) directed by Howard Hawks and Sunset Boulevard (1950) directed by Billy Wilder. As the voice elicits a fictional narrative, the viewer can infer meaning between the clip on screen and the dialogue heard to piece together their own narrative. This voice over perhaps forms as the main creator of narrative pattern for the viewer. It offers fresh insights to different sketches as the film plays over and over again and denies the viewer any real resolution, closure. This succeeds in illustrating how His Long Goodbye is an example of a text.
Although the voice over forms as a typical convention of film noir it can be critiqued given the story the voice expels imposes literal meaning upon the viewer. In this sense, the voice over has not been completely successful and undermines the nature of a text without the presence of the video clips for it to interact with.
His Long Goodbye was born from the prompt “Fire”, taking this prompt and giving it the persona of a femme fatale; a fiery female figure that symbolises destruction, lust and danger, similarly to fire itself. Through this appropriation of a vague prompt in to a more solid concept, we are adhering to de Certeau’s notion of a tactic that “boldly juxtaposes diverse elements in order suddenly to produce a flash shedding a different light on the language of a place and to strike the hearer” (1988, p.37-8). In creating a persona from the vague prompt of “fire”, we are “shedding a different light” on the prompt in order to create a more solidified sense of meaning for the “hearer” (or in our case, user).
In appropriating the prompt in to the personal of a femme fatale, we allowed ourselves to experiment within the traditional cinematic genre of film noir in a completely different context to traditional film forms. As previously discussed, the film noir conventions evident in our Korsakow videos succeed in placing our persona in a suitable context. Our use of black and white videos as well as an all black background aim to reference and enhance the traditional film noir conventions we exert in our videos. Simultaneously, our Korsakow film refutes these typical Hollywood filmic conventions to illustrate the differences between traditional film and video and the possibilities that a K-film offers in terms of the user being in control of the meaning.
K-film forms as an example of Barthes term “text” given it offers viewers’ with a certain amount of agency to engage with it. As opposed to experiencing a film through traditional and more passive theatrical modes of viewing, the K-film is experienced by viewers “in an activity of production” (Barthes 1977, p. 158). According to Barthes (1977, p. 157), the text should form “as a process of demonstration”. This involves displaying the process of writing; elucidating that what you are demonstrating in your writing is inherent in the text. Similarly to our Korsakow film, viewers’ engage with the text when using it. The process of actively constructing the film’s narrative by clicking on a collaboration of randomly placed videos illustrates how the viewer demonstrates, performs and produces the texts narrative. Moreover, this enables the viewer to extract their own meaning from the K-film, offering multiple interpretations and no real closure given videos possess an infinite amount of lives to continuously create new meanings. Korsakow allows the user to literally drive the narrative, selecting whichever clip they would like to see, or not see next, and with its lack of structure allows the user to discern their own meaning. Korsakow is a text that is “experienced only in an activity of production” (Barthes 1977, p.157).
Of course, it is the user that defines not only the meaning, but also the length of the K-film. We have no say in this whatsoever; the user is in total control of not only what they perceive in the K-film but also how they perceive it, including how long they wish to spend doing so. They can click to a new SNU before the one that’s currently playing is complete; they can close the browser window long before they’ve run out of SNUs to select from. This depends on the meaning – perhaps they glean their own understanding of what they’ve been watching (and in their own way, creating) before you figure out your own. In traditional film and video, it is expected that the user will finish the entire polished project before deciding upon a “meaning”; to press “stop” halfway through implies a lack of understanding or interest, not a heightened sense of understanding.
A primary difference between traditional film and video and a Korsakow film includes differentiating editing techniques. Traditional film and video is often associated with using formal continuity editing arising out of Hollywood, ensuring that viewers’ are not aware that they are watching a film. This style of editing is referenced through our use of film noir conventions that are deeply affiliated with Classical Hollywood film. However, we accentuate the differences between the traditional genre of film noir and the possibilities a K-film offers through our own K-film that possesses a lack of formal continuity editing. As Manovich writes, “In cinema viewing, the viewer is asked to completely merge with the screen’s space. This stability has been challenged by the arrival of the computer screen” (2001, p.96). In our K-film we have incorporated video clips’ possessing long takes and a collage style structure that subverts traditional Hollywood film and video editing techniques. Barthes (1977, p. 163) elucidates that “the text is very much a score of [a] new kind: it asks of the reader a practical collaboration”.
His Long Goodbye aims to subvert continuity editing used in traditional film and video by applying Shields’ collage techniques to the Korsakow film. The collage structure of our K-film is made evident through the absence of a whole and unified screen usually evident in Classical Hollywood films. What our project incorporates is four thumbnails surrounding our primary screen. Our K-film is comprised of fragmented screens, adhering to the notion of collage that suggests “meaning is not inherent in any one shot but is created by the juxtaposition of shots…meaning and emotion [are] created not by the content of the individual images but by the relationship of the images to one another” (Shields 2011). Viewers thereby create their own meaning from a narrative that they construct when engaging with our K-film. The multiple options of clips to click on our screen offer the viewer with an opportunity to create many relationships between over seventy clips. Moreover, the viewer builds narrative connections between clips that allow them to stay open. The narratives created by viewers’ stay open given they can be linked to other clips whilst returning to previous clips. Furthermore, the continuous male voice over narration that we have included offers the K-film another layer of interpretation. The sound of the voice over that aligns with our video sketches provide sketches with additional layers of meaning that the viewer can infer. As a the voice presents a fictional narrative, the viewer can infer meaning between the clip on screen and the dialogue heard to piece together their own narrative. This voice over perhaps forms as the main creator of narrative pattern for the viewer. It offers fresh insights to different sketches as the film plays over and over again and denies the viewer any real resolution or closure.
The Korsakow film, His Long Goodbye successfully demonstrates how the conventions of works such as Classical Hollywood film noir’s can be applied to texts such as those that the Korsakow program allows to be created. Traditional film techniques displayed through the size of the screen, the voice over and film noir style videos can be re-formatted in the K-film parameters so that the user is in control of the meaning, not the creative author.
Barthes, R 1977, Image Music Text, Fontana Press, London.
de Certeau, M 1988, The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press, Berkeley.
Manovich, L 2001, The Language of New Media, MIT Press, USA.
Shields, D 2010, Reality Hunger: A Manifesto, Alfred A. Knopf, USA.
The Big Sleep 2000, DVD recording, Warner Home Video, Australia.
Sunset Boulevard 2002, DVD recording, Paramount, Australia.
May 21, 2012 – 12:16 pm
Adrian not very good at closure, as a result his subject possesses no real closure. Qualitative change, not qualitative.
Integrated Media is fluid, it forms as a representation of Barthes ‘text’, it performs what it is attempting to communicate. Fluid nature of the network, blogs, Korsawkow – everything that we have studied this semester contains no hierarchy.
What is it to be online? Within COGNITIVE, TEHNICAL, AESTHETIC requirements of a particular approach to making, networked practice, and technical rationality.
Cognitive Model – explored ideas of connection, association and patterns. Things are fluid, unfixed, mobile, interconnected. This reflects the final project development; as a cycle of prompts that are continually opened up through making, looking, rethinking and making again and again.
Internet is a series of protocols, both technical and social. In this subject we have looked at the technical components such as file formats, HTML, HTTP, blogging, filming etc. You need to learn how to do these things, they are tools and protocols learned through systems that are always near to hand. Korsakow forms as a free system used this semester. Furthermore, the Internet forms a culture of valuing, sharing and contributing. This has been reflected in our own blogging, putting our own work out in public. We’ve made a shift away from a model that concerns one things, we are concerned with many things, artefacts. This is reflected in our Korsakow films, we’ve made many different video sketches that cannot exist on their own, rather in relation to every other sketch on screen. The videos join in many ways similarly to the dense ideas that we have been exposed to. These ideas are applicable to other places, other contexts. This is reflected in my Communications Debates and Approaches essay that draws on Barthes ideas in regards to active audience and intertextuality in television.
Things vs. Experience in relation to the economy. Begin thinking about experiences such as relationships, people, communities, sociality, protocols, networks given these are the makers of things. We assume that films, tv programs, essays, audiences etc. are what matters, this is not the case. This is not where values lies, things have moved to experience.
We are now in an experience economy. Content is not king – we once made product and needed distribution. We now have neither product, nor distribution. How are we able to frame our own experience of Integrated Media, that looks forward and outwards?
May 19, 2012 – 7:00 pm
Based upon the participation criteria I created at the beginning of the semester, I have decided to give myself an overall grade of a (not to be revealed).
Blogging: In terms of blogging I started off strong, contributing three a week until week eight where I then began writing one or two blogs a week. I have consistently blogged about the lecture and the readings and also incorporated external material to relate specifically to this subject. However, I will admit that these blogs were primarily about how Communications Debate and Approaches relates to Integrated Media which was not digressing far. Although I did contribute blogs towards the assessments they were not about the technical aspects of the projects which is something I said I would do at the beginning of semester.
Video entries: I submitted all video entries due at the beginning of the semester. Religiously, they would be done by Monday, every Monday.
Readings: I completed all of the required readings and wrote blogs continuously throughout the semester on these. When I found it difficult to comprehend certain readings I would always seek assistance from Google or by engaging with other students blogs to understand things a bit better.
Lectures: I attended every lecture throughout the semester and wrote consistent blogs regarding their content.
Korsakow: Thankfully I didn’t have any real issues with Korsakow but constantly sought help in class from either Adrian and a few times from Erin to enhance the quality of my project. In the final project I feel I have contributed well by creating videos, linking videos, writing essay material, creating the portfolio, attending and contributing to group meetings.
More criteria pending…
May 14, 2012 – 9:33 am
The title of this post is a quote from Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy. Funnily, and repeatedly I find myself referring to Noel Fielding as relevant to this subject. We laugh at this quote (in its context) because we are self-aware that we are constantly placing things in contexts to assign meaning. In the lecture Adrian outlined that things always have context. The context of the moments of reading, the contexts provided by the way what is being read is en-framed, the contexts that always, necessarily and inevitably attach themselves to things. Heck, even our Korsakow film is loaded with context. Our film contains pieces of video that within the film’s context, form as small film noir sketches. On a formal level, our sketches and the traditional genre of film noir that they pay homage to are taken out of a traditional filmic screening and narrative context. Whilst film noir ensures continuity editing, our Korsakow film refutes the notion by employing a fragmented visual narrative. In saying this, our Kosakow does form as a collage. More specifically, our clips, their position on screen and the way in which the viewer interacts with them form as collage. The arrangement of our clips are emergent and they build generative relations between the parts. What places these clips in context is not only their adherence to traditional noir conventions but also our voice over narrative in the piece. This voice over forms as a murder mystery making reference to texts such as Sunset Boulevard, The Big Sleep etc. The voice is of the murdered detective who reflects on who murdered him and why. From the clips we have used we intend to assist the viewer in generating a femme fatale figure as the culprit. The progressive relationship generated between the voice over and the video sketches succeeds in revealing our femme fatale persona who is representative of our concept, fire.