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This is a journal I keep to record all things I do within the realm of filmmaking.

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

The Struggle for Realism, by Jared Caldwell

In Bazin's article “The Ontology of the Photographic Image”, she illustrates the battle between expressionism and realism. Bazin describes the need for photography and how photography came about to “free” the world of painting from realism.

When describing the birth of photography, Bazin states that at this point cinema and photography “are discoveries that satisfy, once and for all in its very essence, our obsession with realism”. This may be true for painters, but the pursuit of realism is still very much mainstream. Different art forms appeal to different senses in the body. Music is experienced through aural means. Painting and photography are experienced through visual means. Other art forms appeal to multiple senses. Sculpting appeals to both the senses of sight and touch; whereas, cinema (with synced sound) appeals to the aural and visual senses. New media, such as video games, now appeal to three senses: the visual, the aural, and the interactive (touch). Though these representations may be experienced through the human senses, the fact that none of these forms appeal to all of the senses in the same way that we live our lives shows that total realism has not yet been achieved.

Bazin describes photography as an automatic process, “without the creative intervention of man”. This isn't the case. The mechanics of the film camera are modeled after the human eye. The eye takes in light and focuses the light automatically on the retina, which is then automatically interpreted by the brain as an image. When attempting to achieve realism through painting, for example, the light reflecting off of the object is projected through the artist's eye, is interpreted by the brain, and then is filtered through the medium (the artist) onto the canvas. The object is transformed through creative means (the human filter) to create the work. When the photographer creates a picture, the process of creating the image is not simply automatic. Unlike the human eye, which is an automatic “mechanism”, there are a number of manual functions on a camera that have to be taken into consideration when creating the image. Adjusting the aperture lets in more or less light. Adjusting the shutter speed exposes the film for more or less time. The distance between the camera, the object, and the lenses creates the need for image focus. Distance, the amount of light, and focus create different depths of field. The fact that a photographer can take two completely different pictures of the same object suggest that photography is not “automatic”, nor is photography the pinnacle of realistic representation. In humans, the image capturing device (the eye) is automatic, and the interpretation of that image leaves room for creativity. In photography, the interpretation of the image is automatic, but the process of creating the image is achieved through manipulating the capturing device (the camera). Photography does have the “creative hand of man” in the creation of images.

Though photography changed the world of realism in painting dramatically, the drive toward realism has only grown with the advent of photography. Various forms of cinema (James Cameron's upcoming new 3D cinema technology), and new forms of media (video games and interactive narrative) are brand new, and are on their way towards a more realistic medium of representation.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Eye Sore, by Jared Caldwell

This is an experimental film I created at GSU to simulate what it is like to be near-sighted.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Food Styling Documentary

This is a food documenatry created by myself and three other individuals at GSU.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Concept Banner for a Client

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Ketchup is as Thirsty Does, with Jared Caldwell

This is a short experimental exercise created by myself and three other individuals at GSU. The title is a play on another group's title, Thirsty is as Mustard Does. We just thought it was funny. This film is composed visually entirely in still frames. This was our journey across the "concrete campus", as Sue-Ellen lovingly dubbed the infrastructure that is Georgia State.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Symphony dell'Acqua, with Jared Caldwell

Symphony dell'Acqua was filmed by myself and three other members of this week's exercse group. We were given two miniDV tapes, one to record video, and one to record audio. Our group traded our audio tape with another group, and our goal was to take sound that was not recorded for our video and sweeten the tracks so that they meshed with the video. Our footage was supposed to be an object in motion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Sincerely,, with Jared Caldwell

Sincerely, is a film created by myself and a team of three other students at Georgia State Unversity. We shot and edited this in 2 nights. I was the Director of Photography, concept collaborator, co-editor, and co-director. The goal was to tell a fictional narrative using images and audio with little to no dialogue.

Cinema, by Jared Caldwell

This is my short film Cinema. It is comprised entirely of still frames that I screencapped from some of my favorite dvds. I did not use any other sources save the dvds themselves. There were a couple of stills that look a little distorted (i.e. Silence of the Lambs was actually a full screen copy!), but with the exception of a couple of still replacements, this is pretty much the final form.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

timemachine: Remarks, by Jared Caldwell

In typical commercial films, the viewers place themselves in front of a screen or projector, and watch a film contained within the bounds of a single rectangle. This sort of “windowed” view into the world that these films take place is the oldest and most conventional way of watching films. When the viewer looks into the “window” of the film, the viewer has two choices: watch or do not watch. In this sense, the viewer watches a finished product that filmmakers have made, and the experience of looking into this “window” doesn't change much from screening to screening; the only dimensions that could change would be the size of the projection.

In Timemachine, multiple perspectives are set up to allow the viewer a different kind of experience contrary to commercial film. With multiple perspective movies, the spectator immediately becomes a participant. Not only do multiple perspectives give the partaker a choice of what to look at, a multiple perspective movie forces the participant to choose. Regardless of the outcome, the participant has invested at least a minimal amount into the picture by simply being in the presence of the film. The participatory aspects of multiple perspectives allows the partaker to directly affect the outcome of their film viewing experience. Though these types of films still have a form of authorship that cannot be denied, the participant can take part in that authorship; even though the collaboration between the viewer and the film may only remain between the two, there exists a dialog between the participant and the film, contrary to the passive relationship the typical narrative has to offer.

The notion of tinkering with the participatory and the perception aspects within cinema has been conceived before. Stan Brakhage's more personal films, such as Dog Star Man and Window Water baby Moving, both explore the idea of participation that not only include the spectator with the film, but the director as well to the film and to the participant. Vito Acconci's Centers seems at first to be a “passive” film; however, after a few minutes of watching the film, the viewer becomes a participant. As Acconci struggles to keep his finger pointed at the center of the camera, Centers imparts that conflict to the participant who in turn struggles with him through to the end of the film. Even technologies as hokey as the short lived “3-D” era sought to break away from the traditional “window viewing” of cinema.
The content of Timemachine takes place within a multi-passenger vehicle. The positioning of the screens and the passage of time within the film by means of “temporal cuts” (edits done entirely by speeding up or slowing down the footage) creates the illusion of riding in a car. Similar to how the eye picks up fragments of objects at a time to construct images in the mind, the typical driver stores “clips” of the car travel to create one shorter, continuous memory to pass the time. The effect of being present and aware of everything and nothing simultaneously when in a vehicle allows the traveler to bridge the length of time between “point a” and “point b” in a much more compressed fashion.

The ability of the participant to pick and choose what is seen and what is remembered is an attempt to recreate the natural flow of time and space within the mind. Though more usually means cumbersome, knowing that one cannot look at all four screens really frees the viewer from trying to capture every moment of the film and create in their minds their own edit of the film. This experience makes for a more natural one, and allows the viewer to watch the film multiple times, creating a different movie each time. With the use of multiple perspectives, the viewer is given the opportunity to be more engaged, more creative, and more communicative as this “participant” creates and communes with the film, leaving with a “co-authored” film playing in their mind.

An Approach to Centers, by Jared Caldwell

In Kate Linker's Vito Acconci, Linker chronicles Acconci's early video works in the 1970's as “the notion of penetration and elision of boundaries”. Works such as Applications, Security Zone, and Untitled Piece for Pier 17 all deal with boundaries, how those boundaries are broken, who breaks them, and who fulfills the roles of the aggressor and the person in power versus the vulnerable person relinquishing power. One such work dealing with boundaries was Acconci's video work Centers.

At first glance, Centers seems to be quite simple. The footage shows a man from the chest up, with his finger pointing directly into the camera. Though this seems to be a simple action, there is significance in this motion. When taping this work, Acconci sets up a feedback system where he can see himself being recorded on camera. He then points to the monitor he sees his image on, which in turn points back at him and continues to record. He proceeds to point for twenty minutes.

Linker provides an excerpt quoting Acconci, describing his experience of the film:
Pointing at my own image on the video monitor...I keep narrowing my focus...The result (the TV image) turns the activity around: a pointing away from myself at an outside viewer—I end up widening my focus onto passing viewers. (I'm looking straight out by looking straight in).

In connection with the notion of penetration, Acconci is penetrating and breaking the boundaries of the viewer. Acconci is justified in performing this act because not only is he penetrating the space of the viewer, he is breaking his own boundaries as well. To quote Matthew 7:5, “...first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.” Acconci's actions are not hypocritical, because he is sharing with the viewer in this experience.

After a few minutes into the film, Acconci's arm starts to tire. His arm begins to waver, and his finger begins to move, forcing him to struggle with fatigue in his arm throughout the remainder of the film. Even though Acconci is breaking boundaries, he cannot maintain this form of control. One could draw similarities between Centers and the iconic Uncle Sam poster, pointing the finger to single out the viewer, unable to maintain control forever. It could also be said that the forces of gravity are the only elements in play here, but by judging the content with the aesthetics of the film, the length of time that Acconci struggles against gravity shows that the struggle was an intentional one to satisfy the the performance in the film.

Vito Acconci and his body of work is made up largely of performance art. These performances and experiments were able to be captured visually due to the introduction of video technology during this period. Though much more tame than other works dealing with other issues such as sexuality during this period, Centers is one of his many famous video-performance works, dealing both inward and outward with issues of control, vulnerability, and boundaries.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Against Communication, by Jared Caldwell

In Susan Sontag's essay Against Interpretation, Sontag discusses art, art criticism, and how they relate to the individual experiencing a work of art. Sontag suggests that interpreting the content of a work of art does not strengthen the artwork; interpretation destroys art. Though Sontag uses strong evidence to support her claims, her overdramatic, albeit logical, argument does not come without some skepticism.

Sontag opens her argument by describing the idea of content within art. She uses diction similar to Stan Brakhage when describing how “[n]one of us can ever retrieve that innocence before all theory when art knew no need to justify itself”. The fact that interpretation of art has “run rampant”, Sontag dooms us “with the task of defending art”, “[f]rom now to the end of consciousness”. An example of content and interpretation is that of religious texts. Since the “scientific enlightenment”, what science has uncovered hasn't always necessarily meshed with the literal texts of certain religious scriptures. Sontag suggests that interpretation “is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it”. “To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world—in order to set up a shadow world of 'meanings'”. To interpret, or “to bring out meaning”, is to completely change the very nature of the work, according to Sontag.

Though Sontag suggests that the only forms of art that are “safe” from interpretation are those that either have no content or kitsch that leaves no room for interpretation, other forms of art with content should not be treated in the same way as that of kitsch. Works of literature, for example, are created with words. Written and spoken languages are all agreed upon symbols, sounds, and gestures to represent objects, or attach meaning to articles. The very nature of literature is to assign meaning to forms through the content in which it is presented. Not all forms of art exist for aesthetic or entertainment purposes.
Though the argument of deciding what is and isn't art is still debated, Sontag suggests that art should not be used as a medium to communicate ideas. Sontag even goes so far as to say that the works of Tennessee William's and Jean Cocteau are “defective, false, contrived, [and are] lacking in conviction” because of the intentional meanings they try to associate with their works. Works of art are created by humans. To suggest that works of art are monoliths, artifacts, or states of existence separate from the effects of humans; and to claim that these works are meant to be experienced solely through their aesthetic properties in a emotional response seems to be a fallacy in Sontag's argument. Art that is created by an individual has a sense of authorship that supplies the context and the content for the work. Even art that intentionally has “no authorship” is still a for of authorship that the work can not be separated from. To “dissolve considerations of content into those of form” is to deny at the very least the authorship of the work.

It seems to Sontag that “art” is divided into two camps: that of communicating ideas, and that of aesthetic purposes. Though Sontag provides evidence of how interpretation can ruin a work of art, she does not address the argument that maybe interpretations that alter the physical structure of a work may be considered misinterpretations. Further, she suggests that since interpretation can destroy art, criticism should only be confined to that of aesthetic responses. With this assertion, Sontag “waves her hands” at statements such as “transparency is the highest, most liberating value in art”, “we decidedly do not need...Art into Thought...Art into Culture”, and charges us on our task to “cut back content so that we can see the thing at all”. She lashes against artists who use their works to communicate ideas without rebutting why communicating ideas is important; and, she claims that transparency is the greatest state any work of art can achieve without providing evidence why it is the most liberating.

Sontag starts her argument with convincing and persuasive evidence; however, it seems that she uses her evidence to segway onto a platform to perform an overdramatic tirade, slamming the interpretation for meaning of art, and praising criticism solely on the aesthetic art without supplying evidence as to why the charges and assertions she imposes on the reader should be executed.

Thoughts on the Whitney's by Jared Caldwell

After the inception of visual music during the Dada era of the 1920's and 30's, other artists started to experiment with different ways in which sound could be translated into images. Two such artists were John Whitney and James Whitney. Dadaists such as Hans Richter and Viking Eggling composed works of visual music such as Symphony Diagonale through hand drawn or cutout animation. During the WWII and post-WWII era, the Whitney's created their own devices to compose their works. On the cusp of the computer age, the Whitney's used analogue and optical apparatuses to produce their films. What tools that didn't exist or weren't made readily available, the brother would create themselves. With the use of a pendulum to produce electronic tones, created by John, and an optical printer, the Whitney's were able to use light to “animate” their movies. These composed films are described by Brougher as “sound is image, and image is sound, with no fundamental difference”.

From the early 1950's onward, the Whitney brothers delved into studies and experiments on visual representations of music. During this time of a technological Renaissance, towards the end of and immediately following after WWII, mathematical patterns, eastern metaphysics, and atomic energy were a major influence on the Whitney's, and are prevalent throughout the Whitney's works.

In James Whitney's Lapis, light, color, movement, and sound are used to create the work. Considered by Rougher to be “[o]ne of the great visual-music works”, James uses a series of perforated index cards to filter a light source, onto which an optical printer (created by John) records the movements and patterns of the light to create Lapis. In the work, the images are reduced to their “most basic fundamental state—essentially [points] of light”. These particles of light, bearing semblance to representations of atomic particles, are placed into patterns and shift position, color, brightness and transparency compelled by sitar music. The symmetric shapes and highly saturated color schemes used in Lapis are influenced by mathematics and eastern culture. This blending of music, mathematics, energy, and metaphysics creates a web of “truths”, in “'an attempt to approximate mind forms'”. James thought that these particles and their behavior based on harmonic movements were a way of creating a head space in which to contemplate the cosmos.

The brothers are an example of what it truly means to be part of the avant-garde; the Whitney's were at the forefront of visual music from the 1950's onward. With the creation of original optical devices and electronic tone producers, the Whitney's were able to erect these apparatuses to create truly original works in ways that no other filmmakers working in visual music had before. Meshing together technology, art, eastern philosophies, mathematics, and light, the Whitney's facilitate an environment in their films to show energy and how it is interconnected with all of these elements within visual music.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Stan Brakhage

“Dog Star Man” is a reenactment of Brakhage's “artist”. In “Dog Star Man”, a bearded man and his dog are climbing up a dreary, snowy rock face with nothing more that an ax. The main character acts as an explorer, a conquerer even, as he climbs and chops his way up the mountain side. Parallels between the main character and the “artist” can be made; both are figurative trailblazers into the “fear” that Brakage claims blocks out “unlimited love”. The comparison could also be made between Brakhage and his “Dog Star Man” for the same reasons; Brakhage is an avant-garde filmmaker, forging a new path ahead for others to follow. “They create where fear before them has created the great necessity.” Through use of extreme cutting, dissolves, cross dissolves, and stock space footage, Brakhage creates a surreal, near hallucinogenic experience of one man's journey to travel through the “fear” and unknown towards some enlightenment or higher understanding.

“There is no need for the mind's eye to be deadened after infancy, yet in these times the development of visual understanding is almost universally forsaken.” Though “Window Water Baby Moving” may be considered too literal of an example, the philosophies in Brakhage's “Metaphors on Vision” mesh well with this work. The innocence of the child being born juxtaposed against the tainted eyes of Brakhage, Jane, and even the eye of the camera, can create a sense of empathy with the situation. Even though in today's society looking upon a woman in such detail during childbirth is considered taboo, Brakhage presents the birth in such a way that retains the credibility of the film rather than lowering the work into the realm of perversion. Though those who have lost that innocence of a child “can never go back, not even in imagination”, the immodest images in the film shows the reality and the joy of an innocent child coming into the world. Brakhage's exposure of the birth goes to such great lengths, that even Jane's genitalia are shaved so that the viewer can see even more detail of the birth. These images are not presented to offend, but rather to contradict the notion that what we see with our “prejudiced eyes” is anything but innocent.

Stan Brakhage was a visionary, and seemed to place his philosophies into his films. Not only do his characters forge their own paths into their own unexplored territories, Brakhage does as well by making these avant-garde films. Even though Brakhage's own eyes and his camera are not “innocent”, they beckon the audience to follow them on their journey to find that innocence again. Though Brakhage even states that no person can “go back”, the gesture towards this innocence is made worthy through these journey's that Brakhage creates, leaving a path for others to follow.

Sitney and Meshes of the Afternoon, by Jared Caldwell

Meshes of the Afternoon, a short film depicting one woman's journey within the context of a dream, is one of the first films to further explore where Buñuel and Dali left off within the surrealist movement at the end of the 20's. Though Meshes shares element with multiple styles, the film most closely resembles surrealism. P. Adam Sitney disagrees that Meshes of the Afternoon is a surrealist film because of the lack of the “standard function of dividing imagination from reality”. Instead of separating fantasy from reality, Meshes contains a double ending: one of which she shatters the mirror while in her dream state, the other with her throat slit with shards of glass.

Sitney considers Meshes of the Afternoon to be more of a personal trance film. Elements of the typical trance film are in scenes of Meshes; though the entire film takes place in or around a small condominium, the different parts of the house are presented in exotic ways to provide a pseudo landscape for the protagonist to travel through. Also, the protagonist “passes invisibly among people” due to the dream state she is in. These elements, along with the internal struggle the main character and the “quest for sexual identity” can also classify Meshes as a psycho-drama. “'This film is concerned with the interior experiences of an individual. It does no record an event which could be witnessed by other persons.'” Even though much of Meshes of the Afternoon is shot from a third person perspective, the internal and subconscious are shown externally through the dream. Daren used “a number of montage illusions which created spatial elisions or temporal ellipses for the sake of the psychological reality which informed their vision”. The way that Maya's character seems to almost float and dance around the house also adds to this feeling of some dream state. The use of dreams, montage, and the journey and struggle of the protagonist combine to create a unique perspective on the trance film.

For nearly the entire movie, a detailed dream sequence is used to illustrate the protagonists journey. The importance of dreams, a notion inspired by Freud, is heavily underlined in Meshes of the Afternoon. “The film-makers have observed with accuracy the way in which the events and objects of the day become potent, then transfigured, in dream as well as the way in which the dreamer may realize that he dreams and may dream that he awakes.” The use of the double person (or in the case of Meshes, the triple person), another element of Freudian thought, is shown during the dream sequence as the protagonist dreams of waking, spawning another clone of herself, and repeating the process.

Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon is an important film because this film started up a resurgence of thought in the direction of Dali and Buñuel amidst a smattering of “expressionistic, impressionistic, and realistic films” shown over a ten year hiatus. Meshes explores the subconscious through the use of dreams and symbols. As the protagonist delves into herself through these dreams, what she creates inside of her “dream world” is so powerful, she causes events to occur in reality. The power of dreams and the subconscious in this trance film, although it does not fit perfectly into any mold, is kosher with the thoughts and ideals of both the surrealist and Freudian “vehicles”, creating this work of the interior experience as opposed to the outward.

Jean Cocteau's Le Sang d'un Poete (Blood of a Poet), by Jared Caldwell

Jean Cocteau's “Blood of a Poet” is a film in the Surrealist vein. Some may argue that Cocteau was not part of the surrealist movement, therefore “Blood of a Poet” is more aligned with German Expressionism, yet there are so many undeniable similarities to Surrealism that one cannot ignore the influence of Surrealism in this work.

"'Thought expressed in the absence of any control exerted by reason, and outside all moral an aesthetic considerations.'" In “The Blood of a Poet”, Cocteau creates a sexual tension that is maintained throughout the film. When the artists is first introduced, he is shirtless, and is drawing some sort of androgynous form onto his easel. The shirtless man does not fit the stereotype of a disshoveled struggling artist; he is a masculine, fit, and confident-looking man. The appearance of the main character is just the beginning of sexuality in the film. After smudging out the mouth of the picture he drew, the hand appears alive on his hand, speaking to him. Soon after, the artist receives pleasure from the mouth, first with his own lips, his chest, and then the sexual foreplay escalates from there. The genderless mouth is then placed onto a nearby statue, bringing the statue to life. Not only are sexual boundaries explored, gender lines are also blurred. The statue, the artists drawing, and the painting in one of the rooms in the mansion all seem to have characteristics of both sexes. Even an angel, a male figure with feminine characteristics, makes slight homoerotic gestures towards a dead boy. These sexual themes are evident in nearly every scene of the film.

In the Surrealist fashion, Cocteau tampers with reality and fantasy to break “the shackles of logic and reason”. The mirror the artist encounters acts as a “barrier” between his world and this outer fantasy world he encounters. After going “into” the mirror, Cocteau changes what would be considered “reality” in the film. Even gravity is in a different direction on the other side of the mirror. When the artist “peeps” through the keyhole of the different rooms in the mansion, he is presented with these bizarre scenes on the other side of the door. In one room, a girl is levitating; in another room, an androgynous painting starts to come to life. After viewing all the rooms, the artists is persuaded to commit some sort of imaginary suicide. The logical progression in the film is skewed from the reality outside of the film.

The Dada love affair with the machine and the inanimate are countered with the “fear of the dehumanizing automaton”. As the artist is drawing in the beginning, the erased mouth becomes alive on his hand, and then the hand breathes life into the statue when the mouth becomes fixed as the living statues mouth. Other objects such as light fixtures, statues, other portraits gain different degrees of personification. These animated characters are a direct influence on the main character, coaxing him into alternate realities and even a pseudo-dream suicide.

Cocteau's “Blood of a Poet” is a surrealist film that deals with metaphysical and fantastical elements. The sexual innuendo and violent context of the film bring about an appropriately dark feel and mood onto the work. The surrealist notion of coming back to “art” after the Dada movement is prevalent in the film, thus giving “Blood of a Poet” if not a surrealist title, than at the very least a surrealist spirit.

Lynn Marie Kirby, by Jared Caldwell

Lynn Kirby, an avant-garde filmmaker, uses a wide array of film technology and philosophy when making her films. Kirby's films range in content from the feminine to the spiritual, political, and social. Kirby also uses a diverse toolset for creating her works. She originally began her work in film, but quickly switched to the video format when “editing for video” systems were developed. Later known for her work with digital video in the 90's, much of her work has been shown in a number of different forms, including the triptych. Kirby's body of work as a whole is diverse, with different messages and meanings conveyed in different settings and using different techniques of capture and editing.

When we were screening the “Time Dilations” series, the images she captures are not as pixel perfect as what can be achieved on newer consumer digital camcorder; rather, the images tend to become blurred and amalgamated together when there is a lot of motion, creating this “rare balance between austerity and playfulness” that Michael Sicinski of Cinema Scope mentions in his article “Incremental Framebusting: The Paragon Example of Lynn Marie Kirby”. When editing her work, Lynn relies on the manual controls of her digital editing deck to control the speed and direction of the film, as well as the sparadic crashes of her ancient editing computer to create some of her cuts. Lynn works within the limitations of her tools in order to create a “'way of looking at time and space both simultaneously and pulled apart'”.

A later work captured in a similar vein to “Time Dilations” is Kirby's “Twilight's Last Gleaming”. This latter work, which was originally presented on three separate screens in a triptych, uses Kirby's method of fast-forwarding and rewinding, computer “crash cuts”, as well as digital still frames created out of the colors of other images. What separates “Twilight's Last Gleaming” from her other digital video works is Kirby's use of music to shape the visual aesthetics of the film. The music Kirby chooses, not surprisingly, is the Jimmy Hendrix version of the film title. Kirby say that she “wants you to see the music of Jimmy Hendrix”. The images that collide across the triptych have a rhythm and a pulse that drive the work forward.

In Kirby's “Latent Light Excavations” series, Kirby uses film in unconventional ways. Instead of a camera, Kirby exposes the film on or near certain locations. An example of this film exposure technique is used in her film Golden Gate Bridge Exposure: Poised for Parabolas. Kirby chose to film the Golden Gate Bridge because of the number of people who have committed suicide by jumping off the bridge. These films attempt to capture what she calls “vibrations” from the surrounding area. The areas she chooses typically have a “social” or a “socio-spiritual” aspect to them. In essence, Kirby is trying to capture the “spirit” of these locations within these “Latent Light Excavations”.

Unafraid of venturing off in new directions with new and unconventional technology, Lynn Kirby presents new experiences within the constraints she places on her work (i.e. “crash” editing). The exploration of the temporal, the spiritual, and the social can be found throughout her work through her use of editing and capturing, whether that be through exposing canisters of film, using older editing systems, or using different mediums. Kirby plays these different forms of expression to her liking in such a way as to capture objects and events that could be everyday, and present them in new ways that add meaning.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Hello all,

I just created a new film group so that others can help in future projects. If you want to join (pleasepleasePLEASE do), then either go to http://groups.google.com/group/film-collaborations to check us out, or just enter your email address on the right and submit.

Thanks! :)

Friday, February 23, 2007

Assignment #3

LCC 2720, Assignment #3, Font: Helvetica

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Music for the Deaf, by Jared Caldwell

By 1924, Viking Eggeling had completed what most consider his masterpiece: Diagonale Symphonie, or “Diagonal Symphony”. Diagonale Symphonie is a black and white film created solely out of linear animated lines and curves. This “symphony” of line movement creates what some consider to be “visual music”. Diagonale Symphonie is one of the first in a wave of Dada films that uses abstract animation through film to capture a symphony of music through visual means.

Eggeling, originally a painter, committed most of his life's research to the “theory of art based on a language of linear forms”. He would take elements found in nature, such as rocks, grass, trees, and the sky, and distill their forms into basic geometric shapes. Eggeling used these basic derived elements of nature to create a kind of pictorial language through abstraction. His research became a progression of using these elements with the “notion of counterpoint of linear elements”. The pictorial “language” he created juxtaposed with elements with opposite meaning (i.e. Large to small, few to many, increasing to decreasing), formed a “'creative marriage of contrast and analogy'”. The use of counterpoint within these linear hieroglyphs were intended to create expression. The final element to achieve in Eggeling's work was the sense of temporality.

In Diagonale Symphonie, Viking Eggeling brings his paintings and drawings to life in animated sequences. “One motif follows another, each presented with the diagrammatic clarity of a blackboard drawing, all arranged along a diagonal axis.” Eggeling takes his pictorial language of lines and curves and presents them in a way to convey rhythm, contrast, temporality, and counterpoint. The pictographs and gestures start of small, slow, and simple; then, the rhythm picks up, and the images and gestures become more exaggerated. These gestures compose a song and dance of sorts with these “curves and straight lines [that] sprout and retract in a regular rhythm, one answering the other”.

According to Richter, both he and Eggeling believed that “'music became the model...every action produces a corresponding reaction”. The thought of counterpoint is well integrated into music. The gestures of counterpoint in Diagonale Symphonie, along with rhythm, create the sense of visual music. A musical structure is solidly in place. A beat or pulse is created by the rhythm of the movement of the pictographs. Crescendo, decrescendo, and accents can be seen with the ebb and flow of the counterpoint gestures. Legato and staccato are composed by the duration of the images in the film. One can experience a visual symphony without the use of any music.

Diagonale Symphonie is an important venture into the realm of avant-garde filmmaking. Not only is Diagonale Symphonie constructed in a way completely different from the normal conventions of film, other genre's such as painting and music are incorporated to create a meaningful visual experience. Diagonale Symphonie is an atypical approach to filmmaking and succeeds in creating music through a visual symphony.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Manhatta and The Avant-Garde Cinema, by Jared Caldwell

In Germaine Dulac's The Avant-Garde Cinema, the term avant-garde is used to describe “any film whose technique, employed with a view to a renewed expressiveness of image and sound, breaks with established traditions to search out, in the strictly visual an auditory realm, new emotional chords” (Dulac 43). Though Manhatta breaks a few of Dulac's “proofs” of pure cinema, Manhatta in spirit and mostly in form meets the ideas of avant-garde filmmaking presented by Dulac.

According to Dulac, an avant-garde film “considers nothing else” but art, unlike commercial cinema that seeks a monetary profit. Towards the beginning of its inception, the cinema went into the direction of “literature”, or narrative. Film was simply another means of communicating ideas in the same form. Most films were fictional stories, represented by the cinema in almost the same way a play would be represented, had it been recorded on film. Dulac speaks of three considerations essential to the cinema as a whole: movement, rhythm, and life. Dulac uses this quote: “'To strip the cinema of all those elements which did not properly belong to it, to find its true essence in the understanding of movement and visual values: this was the new aesthetic that appeared in the light of a new dawn'”. With these narrative films, the cinema was only mimicking other existing arts in a visual way. Dulac suggests that the film medium be used in ways separate from the other arts.

Manhatta, a short film collaboration between Charles Sheeler and Paul Strand, is a film that meets most of Dulac's pure cinema “proofs”. Proof number one states “that the expression of a movement depends on its rhythm”. In Manhatta, the rhythm of machines, workers, and the crowds of the city move the film along. The constant inclusion of steam throughout the city creates a kind of visual pedal to drive the film. Proof two comments “that the rhythm in itself and the development of a movement constitute the two perceptual and emotional elements which are the bases of the dramaturgy of the screen”. Manhatta holds this to be true as well. Manhatta starts off with a water sequence, which then segways into the landing of the barge filled with people. The flow of people move into a different piece with workers and machines, and the film continues this flow of continuity driven by movement and rhythm. The focus in Manhatta is real life. Manhatta's documentary style also captures the people in their surroundings, which is made apparent by scenes of water, the surrounding city, and the relationship nature has with the people.

The main proof that Manhatta does not follow is ”that the cinematic work must reject every aesthetic principle which does not properly belong to it and seek out its own aesthetic in contributions of the visual”. Manhatta does not solely use visual elements to progress the film. Music is used in Manhatta, and a poem by Walt Whitman is inter cut into the film. Though these elements are in Manhatta, it seems as if the written poem is used as a contrast to the visual aspects of the film. It is as if the poem is just made up of bland words compared to the powerful tableaux and imagery used throughout the visual components of the film. Even though these elements do not meet Dulac's standards for “pure cinema”, it is as if Manhatta is arguing the case that “pure cinema” is all that is needed, and that the written word in film does not have the meaning that the image has. Though Manhatta does not meet all of Dulac's criteria, Manhatta at heart contains the spirit of true cinema.

The Significance of Kitsch in Modern Culture, by Jared Caldwell

What is kitsch? According to Clement Greenberg in “Avant-Garde and Kitsch”, kitsch is what is considered the “rear-garde” to the avant-garde. The avant-garde is considered to be at the forefront of advancement in the realm of art, exploring and furthering art in different ways that may be unconventional. If the avant-garde is considered to expand “high art”, then kitsch is the commercialized art that has become the rear-garde in the present, consisting of articles such as: Hollywood movies, magazine covers, pop art, commercialized music, etc.
Greenberg speaks of a time before this mass of commercialized culture “kitsch”was formed, when art was created for the high elite of society. During these times in history, there would be the few (the aristocrats) who were versed in reading, writing, literature, language, and art, and then there would be the many (the common peasants) who were subservient to the aristocrats. These commoners were not well educated, due to social class and the fact that there was no extra time to be had to learn and appreciate the arts. Therefore, “high art” was created for and appreciated by the aristocrats, and marveled after by the ignorant commoner.
In recent history, “global literacy” had reached out to most people, especially in the West. With literacy and education, the chasm between the upper class and the lower class had started to close drastically. The fact that the commoner could read, write, and had some education rendered the once prestigious position of being a well read, educated person an easy one to obtain. According to Greenberg, since the new lower class did not have the leisure of not working or living in an aristocratic environment, the appreciation of high culture and high art was lost on this new generation of “intellectuals”. This depreciation of the high arts created a demand for a new kind of culture: kitsch.
In Wallace Steven's “Art, Entertainment, Entropy” and in Greenberg's “Avant-Garde and Kitsch”, both agree that imitation plays a big role in art. Greenberg states “that avant-garde culture is the imitation of imitating”. Imitation to the avant-garde is the relationship that the artist forms with the medium he is working in. This imitation is based around the concept that art is created by the idea of creating art, and that art stands on its own without any other need. Steven's describes the rear-garde, kitsch, as an imitation of what is known. With kitsch, there is no exploration or development of new material. Everything that has passed as “culture” in previous history is rechurned and regurgitated into this “mass culture”. It is as if kitsch is being presented as a new cereal box, whose cardboard sides are made up of old recycled cardboard boxes. Even with a new logo and different colors, ultimately all that is still left is a cereal box. Stevens even quotes Krishnamurti, “'One of the fundamental causes of the disintegration of society is copying, which is worship of authority'”. What does this foreshadow for future generations?
In response to the authors, it would seem to me that this mass culture, kitsch, is the first part in a long cycle of culture development. Though I am no expert on the history of culture, nor the study of culture, “high art” and “aristocratic society” have not always been placed on a pedestal that it once was on years ago. Some of the earliest known works were no doubt performed by the first humans: gatherers, cavemen, wanderers. These paintings on caves and stones were not considered “high art”, but rather means of story telling. This time period was developed long before a high social order like the aristocrats of old were formed. Though social structures were formed for different reason then, later groups of people like the Native Americans didn't have that higher class to perform and study this “high art”. It seems likely that art and the exchange of ideas during these time periods could find some parallels with today's modern kitsch. Maybe when there are times of equalization, the rear-garde takes presidence over the avant-garde until an elitist class forms again. “High art” could then form again out of the mechanized “mass culture” when the masses are no longer in power.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Font Project: FUTURA MEDIUM; toddle, shiver, by Jared Caldwell

These are both design pieces for my LCC 2720 Principles of Visual Design class. The font is Futura Medium, b/w.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Its done.

Campus Movie Fest is over.


I can not BELIEVE how much work that was. I spent 18 hours just in editing!

How did the movie turn out?

Not bad.

I loved the beginning parts, and I really liked most of the bits in the bar. I am so proud of my friends for taking it seriously, and I am proud of myself for just getting out there and shooting. The real credit for the movie would have to be given to Chelsea. Without her help through that weekend, I dont know if I would have finished it.

Am I dissappointed?

No, but the movie did not turn out how I originally envisioned it.

The bottom line is that the movie was finished uncompleted.

We will see how it competes (if it even competes at all).

Monday, January 1, 2007

HARRISON BERGERON, by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

THE YEAR WAS 2081, and everybody was finally equal. They weren't only equal before God and the law. They were equal every which way. Nobody was smarter than anybody else. Nobody was better looking than anybody else. Nobody was stronger or quicker than anybody else. All this equality was due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th Amendments to the Constitution, and to the unceasing vigilance of agents of the United States Handicapper General.

Some things about living still weren't quite right, though. April for instance, still drove people crazy by not being springtime. And it was in that clammy month that the H-G men took George and Hazel Bergeron's fourteen-year-old son, Harrison, away.

It was tragic, all right, but George and Hazel couldn't think about it very hard. Hazel had a perfectly average intelligence, which meant she couldn't think about anything except in short bursts. And George, while his intelligence was way above normal, had a little mental handicap radio in his ear. He was required by law to wear it at all times. It was tuned to a government transmitter. Every twenty seconds or so, the transmitter would send out some sharp noise to keep people like George from taking unfair advantage of their brains.

George and Hazel were watching television. There were tears on Hazel's cheeks, but she'd forgotten for the moment what they were about.

On the television screen were ballerinas.

A buzzer sounded in George's head. His thoughts fled in panic, like bandits from a burglar alarm.

"That was a real pretty dance, that dance they just did," said Hazel.

"Huh" said George.

"That dance-it was nice," said Hazel.

"Yup," said George. He tried to think a little about the ballerinas. They weren't really very good-no better than anybody else would have been, anyway. They were burdened with sashweights and bags of birdshot, and their faces were masked, so that no one, seeing a free and graceful gesture or a pretty face, would feel like something the cat drug in. George was toying with the vague notion that maybe dancers shouldn't be handicapped. But he didn't get very far with it before another noise in his ear radio scattered his thoughts.

George winced. So did two out of the eight ballerinas.

Hazel saw him wince. Having no mental handicap herself, she had to ask George what the latest sound had been.

"Sounded like somebody hitting a milk bottle with a ball peen hammer," said George.

"I'd think it would be real interesting, hearing all the different sounds," said Hazel a little envious. "All the things they think up."

"Um," said George.

"Only, if I was Handicapper General, you know what I would do?" said Hazel. Hazel, as a matter of fact, bore a strong resemblance to the Handicapper General, a woman named Diana Moon Glampers. "If I was Diana Moon Glampers," said Hazel, "I'd have chimes on Sunday-just chimes. Kind of in honor of religion."

"I could think, if it was just chimes," said George.

"Well-maybe make 'em real loud," said Hazel. "I think I'd make a good Handicapper General."

"Good as anybody else," said George.

"Who knows better then I do what normal is?" said Hazel.

"Right," said George. He began to think glimmeringly about his abnormal son who was now in jail, about Harrison, but a twenty-one-gun salute in his head stopped that.

"Boy!" said Hazel, "that was a doozy, wasn't it?"

It was such a doozy that George was white and trembling, and tears stood on the rims of his red eyes. Two of of the eight ballerinas had collapsed to the studio floor, were holding their temples.

"All of a sudden you look so tired," said Hazel. "Why don't you stretch out on the sofa, so's you can rest your handicap bag on the pillows, honeybunch." She was referring to the forty-seven pounds of birdshot in a canvas bag, which was padlocked around George's neck. "Go on and rest the bag for a little while," she said. "I don't care if you're not equal to me for a while."

George weighed the bag with his hands. "I don't mind it," he said. "I don't notice it any more. It's just a part of me."

"You been so tired lately-kind of wore out," said Hazel. "If there was just some way we could make a little hole in the bottom of the bag, and just take out a few of them lead balls. Just a few."

"Two years in prison and two thousand dollars fine for every ball I took out," said George. "I don't call that a bargain."

"If you could just take a few out when you came home from work," said Hazel. "I mean-you don't compete with anybody around here. You just set around."

"If I tried to get away with it," said George, "then other people'd get away with it-and pretty soon we'd be right back to the dark ages again, with everybody competing against everybody else. You wouldn't like that, would you?"

"I'd hate it," said Hazel.

"There you are," said George. The minute people start cheating on laws, what do you think happens to society?"

If Hazel hadn't been able to come up with an answer to this question, George couldn't have supplied one. A siren was going off in his head.

"Reckon it'd fall all apart," said Hazel.

"What would?" said George blankly.

"Society," said Hazel uncertainly. "Wasn't that what you just said?

"Who knows?" said George.

The television program was suddenly interrupted for a news bulletin. It wasn't clear at first as to what the bulletin was about, since the announcer, like all announcers, had a serious speech impediment. For about half a minute, and in a state of high excitement, the announcer tried to say, "Ladies and Gentlemen."

He finally gave up, handed the bulletin to a ballerina to read.

"That's all right-" Hazel said of the announcer, "he tried. That's the big thing. He tried to do the best he could with what God gave him. He should get a nice raise for trying so hard."

"Ladies and Gentlemen," said the ballerina, reading the bulletin. She must have been extraordinarily beautiful, because the mask she wore was hideous. And it was easy to see that she was the strongest and most graceful of all the dancers, for her handicap bags were as big as those worn by two-hundred pound men.

And she had to apologize at once for her voice, which was a very unfair voice for a woman to use. Her voice was a warm, luminous, timeless melody. "Excuse me-" she said, and she began again, making her voice absolutely uncompetitive.

"Harrison Bergeron, age fourteen," she said in a grackle squawk, "has just escaped from jail, where he was held on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government. He is a genius and an athlete, is under-handicapped, and should be regarded as extremely dangerous."

A police photograph of Harrison Bergeron was flashed on the screen-upside down, then sideways, upside down again, then right side up. The picture showed the full length of Harrison against a background calibrated in feet and inches. He was exactly seven feet tall.

The rest of Harrison's appearance was Halloween and hardware. Nobody had ever born heavier handicaps. He had outgrown hindrances faster than the H-G men could think them up. Instead of a little ear radio for a mental handicap, he wore a tremendous pair of earphones, and spectacles with thick wavy lenses. The spectacles were intended to make him not only half blind, but to give him whanging headaches besides.

Scrap metal was hung all over him. Ordinarily, there was a certain symmetry, a military neatness to the handicaps issued to strong people, but Harrison looked like a walking junkyard. In the race of life, Harrison carried three hundred pounds.

And to offset his good looks, the H-G men required that he wear at all times a red rubber ball for a nose, keep his eyebrows shaved off, and cover his even white teeth with black caps at snaggle-tooth random.

"If you see this boy," said the ballerina, "do not - I repeat, do not - try to reason with him."

There was the shriek of a door being torn from its hinges.

Screams and barking cries of consternation came from the television set. The photograph of Harrison Bergeron on the screen jumped again and again, as though dancing to the tune of an earthquake.

George Bergeron correctly identified the earthquake, and well he might have - for many was the time his own home had danced to the same crashing tune. "My God-" said George, "that must be Harrison!"

The realization was blasted from his mind instantly by the sound of an automobile collision in his head.

When George could open his eyes again, the photograph of Harrison was gone. A living, breathing Harrison filled the screen.

Clanking, clownish, and huge, Harrison stood - in the center of the studio. The knob of the uprooted studio door was still in his hand. Ballerinas, technicians, musicians, and announcers cowered on their knees before him, expecting to die.

"I am the Emperor!" cried Harrison. "Do you hear? I am the Emperor! Everybody must do what I say at once!" He stamped his foot and the studio shook.

"Even as I stand here" he bellowed, "crippled, hobbled, sickened - I am a greater ruler than any man who ever lived! Now watch me become what I can become!"

Harrison tore the straps of his handicap harness like wet tissue paper, tore straps guaranteed to support five thousand pounds.

Harrison's scrap-iron handicaps crashed to the floor.

Harrison thrust his thumbs under the bar of the padlock that secured his head harness. The bar snapped like celery. Harrison smashed his headphones and spectacles against the wall.

He flung away his rubber-ball nose, revealed a man that would have awed Thor, the god of thunder.

"I shall now select my Empress!" he said, looking down on the cowering people. "Let the first woman who dares rise to her feet claim her mate and her throne!"

A moment passed, and then a ballerina arose, swaying like a willow.

Harrison plucked the mental handicap from her ear, snapped off her physical handicaps with marvelous delicacy. Last of all he removed her mask.

She was blindingly beautiful.

"Now-" said Harrison, taking her hand, "shall we show the people the meaning of the word dance? Music!" he commanded.

The musicians scrambled back into their chairs, and Harrison stripped them of their handicaps, too. "Play your best," he told them, "and I'll make you barons and dukes and earls."

The music began. It was normal at first-cheap, silly, false. But Harrison snatched two musicians from their chairs, waved them like batons as he sang the music as he wanted it played. He slammed them back into their chairs.

The music began again and was much improved.

Harrison and his Empress merely listened to the music for a while-listened gravely, as though synchronizing their heartbeats with it.

They shifted their weights to their toes.

Harrison placed his big hands on the girls tiny waist, letting her sense the weightlessness that would soon be hers.

And then, in an explosion of joy and grace, into the air they sprang!

Not only were the laws of the land abandoned, but the law of gravity and the laws of motion as well.

They reeled, whirled, swiveled, flounced, capered, gamboled, and spun.

They leaped like deer on the moon.

The studio ceiling was thirty feet high, but each leap brought the dancers nearer to it.

It became their obvious intention to kiss the ceiling. They kissed it.

And then, neutraling gravity with love and pure will, they remained suspended in air inches below the ceiling, and they kissed each other for a long, long time.

It was then that Diana Moon Glampers, the Handicapper General, came into the studio with a double-barreled ten-gauge shotgun. She fired twice, and the Emperor and the Empress were dead before they hit the floor.

Diana Moon Glampers loaded the gun again. She aimed it at the musicians and told them they had ten seconds to get their handicaps back on.

It was then that the Bergerons' television tube burned out.

Hazel turned to comment about the blackout to George. But George had gone out into the kitchen for a can of beer.

George came back in with the beer, paused while a handicap signal shook him up. And then he sat down again. "You been crying" he said to Hazel.

"Yup," she said.

"What about?" he said.

"I forget," she said. "Something real sad on television."

"What was it?" he said.

"It's all kind of mixed up in my mind," said Hazel.

"Forget sad things," said George.

"I always do," said Hazel.

"That's my girl," said George. He winced. There was the sound of a rivetting gun in his head.

"Gee - I could tell that one was a doozy," said Hazel.

"You can say that again," said George.

"Gee-" said Hazel, "I could tell that one was a doozy."