Monday, 31 January 2011

unit 1 assessment

Develop your project proposal to plan a challenging and self-directed programme of study.

My initial proposal arose from a mundane personal story that I wanted to explore further in the live field. At the beginning of the course, I was still emphasizing the political and social in the narrative that I had written. By the time we finalized our proposals, I had spent time looking at inspiring practices and theories that discuss narrative and storytelling. In addition, I was trying to understand some basic concepts related to new media and new technologies such as notions of the nomadic nature of digital arts, of disembodiment, the tension between the strictly linear and hierarchical structure of instructions, data sets, database… in Christiane Paul’s writings. Much of the practitioners’ work that I researched can be accessed under the label inspiring practices on my blog.

One turning point in the development of my proposal happened after watching an interview by Mark Amerika who has been working on expanding the concept of writing to include multimedia formats in which he explains how the new media apparatus is now allowing us to switch more fluidly. The concept of fluidity began to have a place in my research from this point forth.

Another major notion was added when I examined the theory of deep remixability by Lev Manovich which made me better understand why I am exploring narrative in the field. The manner in which he highlights the database and remixability made me confident with the idea of the loop as a main element in the project. Certainly I prioritized the loop after watching Soft Cinema which made me understand that what I should be working on is how a narrative can portray a personal story in the digital era and be fair to this context.

Dissecting the project into smaller bits, I realized that should be replaced with live cinema, since I felt uncomfortable with the idea of performing live in a nightclub. I wanted a different context for the project, a public space that could engage the idea of Beirut in the core of the project (this point will be investigated later through the 3D mapping competition that I applied to, which I will be discussing in the 3rd question).

At the stage when the MPR happened, I dropped the notion of political and social (activism) in relation to the narrative, only to replace it with the topic of narrative and technology. This MPR, my peers’ and advisors’ feedback helped me coin concepts I had to research further, such as notions of memory that I started exploring here and here, responsiveness, input, output, objects, performance setting, live cinema (to replace, and sound. All this accumulated in the ongoing research and the blog posts I am examining.

With the decision to exclude the nightclub from my project, the theorist I thought might be relevant to my project, Laura U. Marks, was also subsequently dropped from the scope of my research. My interest in her notion of haptic visuality was subsequently excluded as well, especially after having read her book 'The Skin of the Film' which made me see that she was unable to justify her theory well in her book.

Demonstrate a critical engagement with practice-based research and contribute actively to debate and discussion.

The research paper was hectic at the beginning. I spent eight weeks during the summer volunteering at D-Fuse where I got much more involved in image making and the technical aspect of the digital arts field. Simultaneously, I was doing my readings for the paper; but honestly, I got carried away with stitching panoramic pictures, watching tutorials, getting acquainted with new techniques, going to exhibitions and watching digital arts related events, mainly The Light Surgeons and KX Culture and Walid Raad's exhibit.

After this healthy diversion, I was able to look back at my research paper and see that I had dispersed thoughts; for instance, the mere task of bringing together an abstract that made sense took a lot of effort. The research paper that came out of the new abstract was by far the most important task I achieved eventually. I spent much time reading, brainstorming and redefining my priorities with regard to the project. I finally made up my mind to nominate what fit in the project and what should be left out. The subject of ‘narrative’ was narrowed down to autobiographical compositing (based on Mark Freeman’s notes on recollection and rewriting the self), the idea of objects was confined to transitional digital objects (based on D.W. Winnicott’s transitional objects theory), and notes on the ideas of fluidity (based on Lev Manovich’s definition of the new media object being variable, mutable and liquid) and the wholeness (based on Foucault’s wholistic fictionalization of the past) supported the earlier decision of breaking down the narrative in the, now live cinema playground.

The paper became a good practice that inspired my project. Throughout the process I was taking notes of what could visually interpret my theme; for instance, the readings on the subject of data and museums gave me the idea of filming my grandmother's library of photographs, which will be one of the main loops I will be working on.

Articulate a clear understanding of the methodology and context of your creative practice in both written and verbal forms.

Since I finalized the research paper, I realized that my main involvement with this project would revolve around autobiographical compositing through transitional digital objects; the latter would be carriers of common experiences, memories and information. The use of animated charts to display historical events that are essential in the autobiographical narrative became valid after I explored, again, Manovich’s theory of presenting cultural data.

I am a practicing graphic designer and my usual tools rely on the Adobe family for all that is not animated and that is not video related. My main challenge to create my loops was to start exploring filming techniques as well as start animating and editing bits and pieces of footage, either using After Effects or Final Cut Pro, to experiment with the potential obstacles I may face later. Two main sources helped me better grasp the techniques I will be getting into: the tutorials of a fairly good website creative cow and the Apple store introduction sessions for Final Cut Pro.

I also had the chance to participate in a 3D mapping event competition. Mainly, I applied to partake in this competition to learn from the event related workshop the technical process behind mapping a building fa├žade. This helped me imagine how the final show could be set and how the final piece could be projected in an appropriate context.

Earlier, during Unit 1, I tried to create visuals to support my understanding of what I was exposing myself to. And, even though these visuals will not be part of the final project, I find them helpful exercises that forced me to dwell more on my methodology. Some of these visuals can be found on the below links:
hamletmachine visual
the 5 obstructions visual
what is remixology visual
MPR visual
leftovers visual
drafting personal narratives visual
intermittence visual

Contributing actively to debates and discussions can be evidenced in the weekly debate chats and the MPR. I usually intervene when my peers are discussing common digital arts related issues like database, the screen, memory and museums… When I can contribute with a good resource I do not hesitate to share it. I also consistently follow my peers’ blogs and correspond with my classmates by email if there is anything that comes my way that I find beneficial to their topic. Although I am sure I am more engaged with some classmates’ topics than others. Some of the links supporting the above can be found on my peers’ blogs:
Dissemination in digital arts
Irwin's frames
Matt's MPR
Matt's project
David's MPR

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