Friday, 30 April 2010

On Memory - 1

In our last chat session, I was advised to dwell more on the idea of memory. I went back to my old philosophy book, that of high school, a French system based book by Denis Huisman and André Vergez, in the second volume, that of "Knowledge" I found the lesson that still reoccurs to my mind every now and then.

What I will post here is the main translation of the general memory related lesson, in which I will be taking out later on aspects that could be researched further.

'Our present is not an elusive mathematical point, a line that has no thickness that separates the forever abolished past and the future that still does not exist.
In fact, what we call the present is not an abstract demarcation line but a fragment of the period enveloping the upcoming past and the immediate future.
My present includes what I just did and what I am about to do.
Heidegger says that man is the 'being of the distant' (l'homme est l'ĂȘtre des lointains), a concerned being that projects the future on the present with what has preceded.
Therefore, while a thing at every moment is contemporary of itself, man lasts, that is man remembers.
"Days go by, I remain" writes Appolinaire. Memory appears as a kind of revenge of the human on the escape of days since the human spirit is capable of finding and keeping what is happening. The face of the changing world that is constantly passing by would find some permanence in our memory. It is in this sense that, according to Ibsen, 'we do not possess eternally but what has been lost".
However, these moments that my memory rescues in some sort from the flying days, it does not really resurrect. Memory is not a hallucination: I relive my past, in thinking it as a past. I deny its presence after affirming it. As Lalande says it, memory in the full sense of the word is " a psychic function that consists in reproducing a state of conscience with the past with a character that it is recognized as such by the subject".
Is a sense, through memory, i find my past, i coincide with it; I AM my past; but on the other hand, I put my past as abolished, I handle it from a distance of myself. I have a past. There's here an ambiguity in memory that is at the same time resurrection of the past and positioning the past as past."

This post will be developed further in a another post and will be linked to the context of the project proposal later.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

MPR feedback

Here are my colleagues feedback on my MPR.
I will be reflecting on the below information and post my comments soon.

Maya Chami: My research question ‚ 'foot kicking a ball: Narrative falling apart in the playground'‚ portrays the project I am developing: as an eye candy challenged into a narrative form.
I am interested in using the old habit of intermittent communication or my inability to tell a story in a shortcut way as a form in the narrative.
I am working now on narratives' 'leftovers' or the stories that come out and revolve around a theme, but not specifically portray it.

Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): several comments here about how this is a similar project to Jean's, good idea to creae a dialogue between you 2
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): Jean asks, how is sound incorporated into this?
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): or is the plan to include sound at al
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): VJing is also repsonsive, reponding to the sound - like a DJ responds to the crowd....
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): so is VJing actually the right word to use at all
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): is there another term that can be used
Satbinder Kooner (skooner): can anyone explain VJing - sorry not familar with the term
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): what about looking at the history of hip hop to give a context
David Tatnell (davidtatnell): I like the autobiographical sense of a vj set - not entirely documentary but hinting more to memory flash backs
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): hip hop is also responsive, often to local issues, verbalizing what is going on
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): Jean - VJing is manipulating video in real time
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): but Jean also points out that VJing (VJ = video jockey) can be different in clubbing type setting rather than a cinema type setting
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): there is a feel of improvisation - influenced by what is going on around the VJ
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): the concept of 'input/output' is important to VJing, along with manipulation the footage you are working with
David Tatnell (davidtatnell): by taking it out of the clubs and into the gallery, how/will its context change?
Melanie Menard (m_menard): Do VJs normally work with D?J/musician (they agree beforehand on type of visual that match music) or usually completely separate ? If so, would you work with specific musician Maya ?
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): also Jean points out the differences between simply 'live editing' footage just creating a sequence, and manipulating for example by adding effects
Melanie Menard (m_menard): I thought Maya wanted to perform in clubs, but maybe I misunderstood
Satbinder Kooner (skooner): What will the content of the video be - what is it's focus?
Andrew Stiff (astiff): if thisnk this is an interesting dialogue that we are having here - the response mechanism within vjing - input and output and feedback
Andrew Stiff (astiff): how does this work within a narrative
Melanie Menard (m_menard): I think it's childhood memories but sort of abstracted + external images she relates to them for some reason ?
Satbinder Kooner (skooner): ok that sounds good
Melanie Menard (m_menard): (was answer to sat)
Satbinder Kooner (skooner): thanks Melanie
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): do you want this to be a performance in a club or a gallery or both - does this raise stylistic issues, what are people expecting in the different settings?
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): Chan, suggests the visuals in a club setting might not be the best setting if you wnat people to focus and give atention to your images
Jonathan Kearney (jkearney): but maybe it is possible to make a club setting the right space, by thinking differently about how a visual narrative is constructed
Andrew Stiff (astiff): ok time .....
Andrew Stiff (astiff): thanks Maya - again many more questions
Andrew Stiff (astiff): definitely strike up a conversation with Jean
Maya Chami: thank you, i will!
Melanie Menard (m_menard): personal experience only, why not experimental music concerts? there's nothing much going on on stage (guy fiddling with machines) so they always look for VJs. SO you keep the not-art-world/festive setting, but people usually pay attention to the visuals and appreciate more, and are not so, hum, drunk or other :)

on another note, Matt emailed me his feedback, here it is:

Hey Maya these were my thoughts on your project...

- What is it that makes this medium eyecandy? This seems to be an easy trap
to fall into - how can this be avoided?
- Can there be certain sections of the narrative that are ‘corner stones' or
repetitions through which the non-linear parts happen?
- Maybe look more into the idea of memories and how these can be visualized.
How memories distort/ mix/ fade/ abstract/ fragment over time.
- Maybe look more into the concept of time in relation to memory and also
film theory.
- Play with time and pace - Run shorter clips alongside/ over the top of
longer clips? Check out...
- Vertov – Man with a movie camera (sequences layered on top of each other)
Able Gance - Napoleon (running narratives Simultaneously alongside each
other/ triptic)

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

MPR Presentation

My research question ‘A foot kicking a ball: Narrative falling apart in the playground’ portrays the project I am developing: as an eye candy challenged into a narrative form.

Up to this point, I was concerned with realizing what made me decide using as the medium of my project. I was questioning as a form of digital moving image and the restrictions that are natural extensions of this technique, having the scenes extracted to one minute each so that the software does not fail on the performer during practice.

I found out that my past habit of intermittent communication or my inability to tell a story in a shortcut way, played a main role in the decision-making, leading to a higher interest and deeper research in narrative styles in digital moving image, and later on to an appreciation of the idea of narratives’ ‘leftovers’, or the stories that come out and revolve around a theme, but not specifically portray it, this point liberated the way I am looking at my project.

Across the many theoreticians/practitioners I have visited so far, I have came across 4 main influential and inspiring ones:

- Lev Manovich’s ‘Soft Cinema’ project > database as a main essence

- Lev Manovich’s ‘Deep Remixability’ theory > software like species within the common ecology, once released, the start interacting, mutating, and making hybrids

- DJ Spooky in his album ‘The Secret Song’ > sampling as a collage, an art practice based on centuries taking out text out of context...

- Mark Amerika in his ‘Cyberfictions’ > working on expanding the concept of writing to include multimedia formats; starting with a written then trying to locate different kinds of audiences whether through the Internet, in nightclubs, museums, galleries…

- Laura Marks in her ‘Haptic Visuality’ theory > intercultural films and video allow the viewer to experience cinema as a physical and multi-sensory embodiment of culture, not just a visual representation of experience.

At this point of the course I became convinced that theory leads practice, and that ideas come out of theory. With the technical background I have, any software would become accessible.

I wish to explore the concept of fragments further. Being able to construct scenarios from any picture or scene is giving your audience the liberty to imagine instead of spoon-feeding. I should be expanding further the research on performer / audience in relation to participation.

What I will be doing next:

- Continuing the research on the breakdown of narrative in digital moving image.

- Looking more at narrative techniques, and have written narrative sequences as a start that will be the support to build up from.

- Start filming, editing, animating and going back to archives of memorial places.

- Developing loops and get myself a training with a practicing VJ before the middle point of Unit 2.

Raising questions about how will the leftover idea be clarified, what kind of footage will I be taking into consideration, the length of the show, is it too obnoxious for a performer to project herself on the screen, why will I go into a domain that does not fit in the mainstream?

To check the beginnings of written narrative along with a mood board experiment please check the below presentation:

Monday, 5 April 2010

Lev Manovich: From Sketchpad to iPad

(from the new expanded version of Software Takes Command currently in preparation)
April 3, 2010

I started putting Software Takes Command book together in 2007. Today is April 3, 2010, and I am doing final edit on the book's second chapter called "Understanding Metamedia." Today is also an important day in the history of media computing (which starts exactly 40 years ago with Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad) - Apple new tablet computer iPad went on sale in the U.S. During the years I was writing and editing the book, many important developments both made Alan Kay’s vision of a computer as the “first metamedium” more real – and at the same time more distant. (I am referring in particular to the text in Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg, Personal Dynamic Media, IEEE Computer. Vol. 10 No. 3, March, 1977. At the end of this article, Kay and Golderg call computer “a metamedium” whose content is “a wide range of already-existing and not-yet-invented media.”)

The dramatic cuts in the prices of laptops and the rise of netbooks – together with the continuing increase in the capacity and decrease in price of consumer electronics devices (digital cameras, video cameras, media players, monitors, storage, etc.) brought media computing to even more people. With the price of a netbook many times smaller than the price of a digital TV set, the 1990s arguments about the “digital divide” became less relevant. It became cheaper to create your own media than to consume professional TV programs via industry’s preferred mode of distribution. More students, designers and artists learned Processing and other specialized programming and scripting languages specifically designed for their needs – which made software-driven art and media design more common. Perhaps most importantly, most mobile phones became “smart phones” supporting internet connectivity, web browsing, email, photo and video capture, and a range of other media creation capabilities – as well as the new platforms for software development. For example, Apple’s iPhone went on sale on June 29, 2007; on July 10 when the App Store opened it already had 500 third-party applications. According to Apple statistics, on Marc 20, 2010 the store had over 150,000 different applications and the total number of application downloads reached 3 billion.

At the same time, some of the same developments strengthened a different vision of media computing – a computer as a device for buying and consuming professional media, organizing personal media assets and using GUI applications for media creation and editing – but not imagining and creating “not-yet-invented media.” Apple’s first Mac computer released in 1984 did not support writing new programs to take advantage of its media capacities. The adoption of GUI interface for all PC applications by software industry made computers much easier to use but the same time took away any reason to learn programming. Around 2000, Apple’s new paradigm of a computer as a “media hub” (or a “media center”) - a platform for managing all personally created media - further erased the “computer” part of a PC. During the following decade, the gradual emergence of web-based distribution channels for commercial media, such as Apple iTunes Music store (2003), internet television (in the US first successful service was Hulu publically launched on March 12, 2008), e-book market (Random House and Harper Collins started selling their titles in digital form in 2002) and finally Apple iBook store (April 3, 2010), together with specialized media readers and players such as Amazon Kindle (November 2007) have added a new crucial part to this paradigm. A computer became even more of a “universal media machine” than before – with the focus on consuming media created by others.

Thus, if in 1984 Apple first Apple computer was critiqued for its GUI applications and lack of programming tools for the users, 2010 Apple iPad was critiqued for not including enough GUI tools for heavy duty media creation and editing – certainly a step backward from Kay’s Dynabook vision. The following quite from iPad review by Walter S. Mossberg from Wall Street Journal was typical of journalists’ reactions to the new device: “f you’re mainly a Web surfer, note-taker, social-networker and emailer, and a consumer of photos, videos, books, periodicals and music—this could be for you.” New York Times’ NYT's David Pogue echoed this: “The iPad is not a laptop. It's not nearly as good for creating stuff. On the other hand, it's infinitely more convenient for consuming it - books, music, video, photos, Web, e-mail and so on.”

Regardless of how much contemporary “universal media machines” fulfill or betray Alan Kay’s original vision, they are only possible because of it. Kay and others working at Xerox PARC build the first such media machine by creating a number of media authoring and editing applications with a unified interfaced, as well as the technology to enable machine’s users to extend its capacities. Staring with the concept which Kay and Goldberg proposed in 1977 to sum this work at PARC (computer as “a metamedium” whose content is “a wide range of already-existing and not-yet-invented media”) in this chapter we will discuss how this concept redefines what media is. In other words, we will go deeper into the key question of this book: what exactly is media after software?