Final Project Rationale

http://prezi.com/v8omzupaza1h/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

For our final project, my group wanted to deal with themes of sexuality. Being a gender and women’s studies minor, sexuality is something that I always enjoy talking and learning more about, so this gave me a perfect opportunity to delve into a topic that I was not as familiar with: sexuality and technology. After reading Alexander and Bank’s “Sexualities, technologies, and the teaching of writing: a critical overview”, we thought it would be interesting to dig further into creating safe spaces for LGBTQ individuals, especially online. The concept of “cyberqueer” and “queer cyberspace” was really fascinating to me. Specifically, this LGBTQ cyberspace (chatrooms, forums, websites, etc.) being used for “the creation of new versions of the self” (Banks, 279) really piqued my interest. These spaces on the internet provided platforms for queer individuals to share information and meet others, but also it provided them with the opportunity to “construct identity” (Banks, 279).

From then on, our group decided to focus our group project on using various media to compile the history of queer cyberspace. We created a multimodal timeline of what we dubbed ‘queer digital culture’, across mainly web and mobile outlets. We decided to use prezi, as we could both look at the bigger picture of all the different categories (queer websites/news, social media, mobile app, online communities/dating sites) and also focus on details. We could also incorporate videos, images and text, making this a project of media convergence as well. We focused on how individuals choose to express their sexualities digitally.

For my personal topic, I was mainly researching LGBTQ online communities and dating sites. Gay dating sites have been around since internet was taking off, with the first gay dating site gay.com launching in 1994. Since then many different versions of the same gay dating site have been launched – Adam4Adam, manhunt, and so on.  Not solely on gay dating sites, I found that queer individuals would also look to more heteronormative dating sites like okcupid to find people to date. Furthermore, many queer individuals have used classified websites such as craigslist to ‘cruise’ since its inception. According to studies, queer individuals were “more likely than heterosexuals to have exchanged correspondence [and] meet others offline” (Lever), which could also explain for the enormous popularity of gay mobile apps that focus on connecting people for ‘meet-up’s like grindr.

In terms of online communities mainly focusing on support and information, I found that there have been LGBTQ forums from very early on in the internet history as well, starting with datalounge (a gossip and news web portal and forum) that was launched in 1995. I was also able to find online communities focusing on specific topics, such as LGBTQ and Christianity, and forums to aid individuals with their coming out, or a travel-community that helped people find LGBTQ-friendly lodging around the globe. Looking at these online communities and dating sites, I realized that even in these ‘queer cyberspaces’, there were still some form of oppression. While I found an abundance of gay men’s dating websites and communities, it was much more difficult to find women’s queer dating sites or information about such sites.

Another form of queer cyberspace I researched was queer communities on non-LGBTQ websites. Specifically, I looked at reddit and how it provided a safe space for queer individuals to talk about practically anything. I came across a variety of queer subreddits that focused on numerous different queer topics. Some subreddits I came across included /gaybros (for gay men who enjoyed more typical ‘bro’ activities like sports and BBQ), and /radicalqueers. Despite being on a very popular website that mainly catered to a straight audience, LGBTQ members were able to create safe spaces where there were minimal interruption from straight people. These subreddits provide a queer cyberspace different from the more “mainstream” queer cyberspaces where people can express their sexuality freely. Going back to the Banks reading, it was interesting to see how queer individuals acted more ‘gay’ online than they normally would ‘irl’ (in real life).

After learning all this, I became curious if some of my friends were the same in terms of expressing their sexuality more online or creating a different personality of themselves on the internet. I interviewed 3 of my friends who all identified as gay, and created a video that was included in the prezi presentation at the end. Each of them had an interesting history online, which I never knew before. Some were more active on the internet within their queer cyberspace, and some were not. Nonetheless, it was fascinating to hear how they used these cyberspaces to express their sexualities.

I think it was a good decision to use prezi for this project because we wanted to look at the bigger picture but also at the details as well. Furthermore, prezi was extremely handy in incorporating different media like images and videos. If we could do this project again, however, I would like to add an audio component to it,  such as a short podcast or an audio excerpt.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this project and really learned a lot from it. I have never thought about it very much, but while reading on the topic I realized that I also am more open with my sexuality online than in offline, and that I also have ‘queer cyberspaces’ that I use as a safe space to express my sexuality.

Sources Cited:

Alexander, J. and Banks, W. (2004). “Sexualities, Technologies, and the Teaching of Writing: A Critical Overview.” Computers and Composition 21(3), 273-293.

Lever, Janet, et al. (2008) “Searching For Love in All the “Write” Places: Exploring Internet Personals Use By Sexual Orientation, Gender, and Age.” International Journal of Sexual Health 20(4), 233-246

Resnick, Gideon. (2013). “Gay Bros: A Unique Online Community for Men Struggling with Stereotypes.” The Good Men Project. Web. 3 Dec 2013. http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/gay-bros-a-unique-online-community-for-men-struggling-with-stereotypes/#!pvXD3.

Video Project

For our group’s video project, we decided to a remediation of various video works to talk about existentialism in a typical college student’s life in a humourous way. Our larger group of 5 people initially started out to shoot footage of a college student and examples of good student behaviour and bad student behaviour. We shoot a lot of footage of typical activities of a college student, such as going to the library, going to the gym, meeting up with friends in bars, and waking up hung over. We wanted as much visual evidence as we good get, hence the variety of footage we shot. Within the variety of shots we took we had some abstract footage that could be used in various different situations, but also concrete images of our actor doing very tangible activities. While shooting, I wanted to get a sense of observation, hence most of the footage being third person and from a observing gaze of the subject.

While the initial ideas for the video was to showcase good and bad examples of a college student, when we split off into our smaller editing groups we had different ideas. In my smaller editing group, we wanted to do something that we saw in our actor’s expressions while shooting. Even during the scenes that were supposed to be more fun, a la the bar scene, he looked like he was not as interested. This has inspired me to create a final video that was sadder and darker in tone. Then we were inspired by our instructor to check out Henri the Cat videos, which really inspired us to do something similar. The Henri the Cat videos reminded me of Godard movies, and everything clicked into place. I wanted to do a remediation of a French New Wave film (as they often dealt with themes of existentialism) and the cat videos (which were also a tribute to French New Wave cinema).

In the end we ended up using the sounds directly from the cat videos. I think if we had more time we could have done a more serious job and recorded our own narrations, but with our tight deadline we did not have the luxury of doing so. After deciding on using the narrations from the cat videos, it turned into something more comedic – as it was a voice of a cat talking about cat struggles, but our subtitles were talking about something very different (the main character’s existential struggle through college life).

In terms of visual editing choices made, I tried to reflect a lot of editing techniques used in Godard’s iconic film Breathless. Our video is entirely in black and white, which gives it a more sombre and artistic feel. I also used multiple jump cuts, which is something Godard was famous for using in his films. I used most of the jump cuts in the video during the bar scenes to depict time passing aimlessly and to add a sense of discomfort.

If we could improve on the video, I think I would do a lot more differently. For example, I would really like to record our own narration to better reflect what is happening visually. Using pre-existing audio sources I felt that we were limited in what and how much we could say. Also, because we had to use two different Henri audio tracks in the video, there is a point half way through the video that is awkward in terms of visual and audio matching each other. I would also like to explore more with shooting the video, perhaps with more close-ups of the main character’s face, and perhaps experimenting with more first person perspectives.

Film Trailer Editing Analysis

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVLvMg62RPA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPIGXxHjRwc

The film I picked was David Fincher’s remediation of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I picked this film because I remember one of the trailers being extremely memorable. The film is a very gritty thriller with very explicit visual imagery. Both of the trailers do a very good job at delivering this mood, but in different ways.

The first and shorter trailer is edited using fast cutting. Sans the opening establishing shot of the car turning into the snowy drive way, all the following shots are extremely short. The trailer does not reveal anything about the synopsis of the film, and just provides very appealing visuals to promote the movie. The music used for the trailer, Karen O and Trent Reznor’s cover of “Immigrant Song” originally by Led Zeppelin, is very intense and is ideal for setting the gritty mood of the movie. (It is also used very effectively in the gorgeous opening scene of the movie.) In fact, the editing in the trailer seems to reflect the music as the cuts are made in tune with the song.  The shots jump back and forth in time and is not in chronological order. It also varies in terms of colours: darker scenes are often contrasted with very bright yellowish scenes to give the trailer an even more jagged and chaotic atmosphere. The trailer does consistently flash back to the initial scene with the car driving into the snowy driveway, showing the car getting closer and closer to the mansions between other short shots, which adds suspense to the trailer as it appears more frequently near the end of the trailer. The trailer does some interesting editing using match cuts, as the characters’ actions reflect each others through transitions, adding some continuity (along with the repeated driveway scene) to the trailer. The trailer reaches climax at the end when the tagline “The feel bad movie of Christmas” flashes in huge stenciled letters in fast cutting in tune with the song turning into loud noise effects. From this trailer one can assume that the movie will be violent and gritty with a lot of gruesome imagery.

The second trailer is edited in a more traditional trailer style. The main difference from the first trailer would be that this trailer actually introduces the story. It still incorporates same scenes used in the first trailer, but most of them longer than in the first trailer. Through the main characters’ voice-overs, the story is introduced, as the scenes showed reflect what is being said. From this trailer, one could safely assume that the movie is a crime/mystery thriller, as the most of the trailer is spent introducing the mystery behind the murder of Harriet. Another interesting editing in this trailer is that although it starts out with relatively longer cuts, the shots become shorter and shorter as the trailer progresses, becoming quite similar to the first trailer near the end. However, the music used in this trailer is more ambient and low-energy compared to the aggressive and noise-filled music of the first trailer. If the first trailer’s music gave it a sense of violence, the second trailer’s music adds a sense of mystery. The second trailer definitely makes the movie appear more reserved and quiet.

From someone who has seen the movie a couple of times, I think it would be really interesting to re-cut the trailer using different music. I would love to see the trailer edited with Enya’s “Orinoco Flow”, a New Age song that doesn’t suit the movie’s overall mood at all but is used in an extremely intense and crucial (SPOILER) torture (SPOILER END) scene during the movie. If I get to re-cut the trailer, it’d be a relatively short trailer (30 seconds). I think I will start out with “Orinoco Flow”‘s chorus with fast cutting of the movie’s more violent scenes. The song will contrast the visuals being showed and fascinate the audience (hopefully). I would still like to use the tagline “the feel bad movie of Christmas” because that seems extremely fitting to the movie and is also fascinating being contrasted with the somewhat ironic music choice. Although the song does not reflect the movie’s content at all, I think it would be nice to have a strangely paradoxical trailer of the movie because the scene involving the Enya song was mindbogglingly bizarre because of the gravity of the situation being contrasted with the Enya song. Furthermore, for people who watch the movie after viewing the trailer would slap their knees so hard and remember the trailer better.

 

Visual Evidence and Documentaries.

  • Visual evidence. Visual evidence is necessary to make a good documentary. It is the actual footage that will support the narrative of the documentary and convey the message of the film. Without visual evidence, the documentary will come off as false or fake. Also, a film really isn’t a film if it doesn’t have visual evidence. For example, a film can’t really be called a film if it doesn’t have any visual elements but only sound. Sound is secondary to movies, it’s the visual evidence that is the most important aspect.
  • Footage. In order to have the appropriate visual evidence in your movies, you need real quality footage. Particularly if you are shooting a documentary because footage is extremely important in telling the truth as it is. For example, the writer talks about the teacher and the student knitting and sharing a profound moment. However, he failed to retain decent footage of the event, and in turn could not showcase his message through that particular scene. Even if you are more interested in what people have to say, it is equally, if not more, important to shoot people doing what they do.
  • Concrete images. In order to make a movie you need to have concrete images. It is not possible to ‘shoot’ abstract ideas. To build up visual evidence for a film, you need images that are “solid, tangible, existential”. For example, “on Tuesday, the mail didn’t come” cannot be filmed. Instead, to make up proper visual evidence, you will shoot various footage of perhaps a character waiting for the mail, constantly checking her mailbox, with references to the fact that it’s Tuesday by using a calendar or the radio. This is a concrete image that could become visual evidence for the film.

Video Project Proposal

Our video footage will be of an everyday male college student. We will get three different types of footage. One will be of the student studying and in class, doing academic type activities. Another series of footage will be social activities, and we will shoot the same character hanging out with friends and going to bars. Another set of footage will be the character sleeping, eating, working out, and any other everyday activities that are outside school and social life. With these videos, one team will attempt to create a video depicting a very healthy college lifestyle, while the other team will try to make a video of a college student struggling to survive college due to bad lifestyle choices of going to bars.

 

Other team members:

Michael – http://music1to1my1beers.wordpress.com/

Kevin – http://roche10.wordpress.com/

Cary – http://rolbiec1info303.wordpress.com/

Jun Ho – http://jangjunho1.wordpress.com/

 

An Accomplishment

 

After much consideration, I decided to tell an anecdote that happened to me not so long ago. I decided to tell the story of interaction I had with a friend last year that has really bothered me at the time. Through this story, I wanted the audience to know that it is important to speak against prejudices and discrimination even if the offending party may be ‘joking’ about these important social issues.

The overall mood of the podcast is very dry and sarcastic, with a sense of humour. I wanted to establish this mood with my voice, which is very flat and dry while telling the story. I wanted this dryness to illustrate my emotions regarding the events that happen through the podcast – I was tired of dealing with that kind of situations back when it happened, and I am still now, and I wanted to show my tiredness of telling people off on offensive jokes through how flat and bored I sounded. I also change my voice a bit when I’m speaking the lines of other characters to add more diversity to the story, and I raise my voice a bit when I speak as me when I was angry.

I also wanted to enhance this mood with the music, as “the music we listen to shape our perception” (McKee). I wanted the audience to listen to the music on an expressive plane and feel how the music works into the story. The music I decided to use has jazz and hip-hop elements and the vibrancy of the music contrasts my dry narration and adds a nice balance to the podcast. I also considered the context of the music that I used; jazz and hip-hop are both genres of music deeply rooted in African traditions that white people have picked up as mainstream form of entertainment along the history of America. Also the songs sampled in the podcast are by Korean artists, to reflect back on my own cultural background. These contextual elements of the music is relevant to the story of the podcast as in the podcast I talk about a white male individual who has disregarded minorities, when his own life and interests have been so immensely been affected by the groups of people he offended.

I used sound effects of an automated voice reading the definition of ‘accomplishment’ and saying the word ‘accomplishment’ to add onto the sarcastic dark humour of the piece. Moreover, I tried to use silence effectively during moments of reflection. The first moment of reflection comes when the male character says something incredibly offensive, so the audience can reflect on the terrible thing he has just said. I also utilize silence in one other occasion for much shorter than I explicitly mention that there was a moment of silence, to add some tension to the story. I also think the music fading in and out in the end of the podcast also provides a moment of reflection for the audience to think about the themes of the podcast.

Recording and editing a podcast was certainly a very different experience from which I learned a lot. I had no idea how to use sound editing programs and it was nice to get to learn how to use them. I also did not anticipate how hard it was going to be to time everything and pick the correct music samples to use to complete the podcast. If I could do this again, I think I’ll try to improve the recording quality of my narration as there were moments where one could hear extraneous noises that could be distracting.

Sound engineering

An activity-based multimodal theory provides an individual with a variety of open-ended tasks that challenge them to think about how a simple communication objective can be told through various means, using a plethora of resources depending on how they frame or coordinate their response to the communication objective. The individual will be responsible for products they formulate in response to given task (a printed text, film, website, performance), the operations (process of creating the multimodal project), and the resources that will be used to create the project, and the conditions under which the audience will experience the final project. This is a very out-of-the-box approach to the typical communication people may choose. So instead of writing a paper on the objective, one may choose to write it in a series of emails, which might be more effective in getting their message across.

Creating an imaginary space. The story of the student who thought of an American museum of greed was fascinating. As she didn’t have the means to create the space, it remained an imaginary space – but she created other supporting materials to support this imaginary space she could not build in Beverly Hills. She created an audio guide through the museum and a transcript of the tour of the museum. This helped make this project very multi-dimensional – it was no longer just a museum plan on paper. It made the space more imaginative.

De-contextualizing and re-contextualizing your work. The students in the reading were asked to re-think their works, as they were both not completely satisfied with their initial project. This is a very interesting assignment – having gone through the objective once, one may have a better understanding of the message they want to convey. Also, understanding the multi-modal nature of the project better, one may now have even more creative ideas to express their objectives.