High School Stop-Motion

Some of the projects I saw today reminded me a little bit of a project I did in high school. Hae Soung’s drawing in particular reminded me of one of the middle segments of this video in which one of my group members draws the Taj Mahal. Basically, my friends and I had to make a music video for our English class and include facts. In retrospect, both the assignment and the final product are pretty silly, but at the time I was VERY proud of this video and to some extent still am, given the sheer amount of time and photographs it took to make. This post isn’t particularly relevant, but stop-motion would have been a neat–and labor-intensive–route to take with this assignment and I still have a soft spot for this little video.

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Time-based Narratives

A lot of us for this last project are doing pieces that are time-based; we wait a certain amount of time, take a photograph, and repeat. Due to time constraints, the amount of time we are waiting tends to be rather short. The “Up” documentary film series (the trailer for the newest installment is linked here) is an example of waiting a VERY long time between making some sort of record of something. Every seven years for forty-nine years, director Michael Apted met with the same group of people to discuss their lives. Can you even imagine what it would be like to be a fifty-six year-old watching an interview of your seven year-old self? The audience gets an interesting narrative, but for the subjects of these films, the project has clearly taken a toll. The concept itself is somehow both incredibly simple and unbelievably ambitious, and the final product is a remarkable series.

My Father Had a Vasectomy

This is a great series of photographs from my teacher last semester here at Penn for Intro to Printmaking. His name is Marc Blumthal, and with this series, he cuts out people (often himself, as the name implies) from family photographs. You may think that this would take away some meaning from these pictures, but I would actually argue that it adds a whole new level of complexity… a bit of inspiration for our photo narrative project.Image

Here’s the link to the whole series: http://www.marcblumthal.com/index.php?/my-father-had-a-vasectomy/

His newest exhibition is currently on display at Napoleon, and you guys should really check it out. I love his work and his printmaking class is also fantastic… I recommend everyone take it if you have room in your schedule in the fall.

The Early Days of Film

The reading about narrative this week got me thinking way back to my first semester at Penn when I took Cinema History Pre-1945. Film started as a completely non-narrative medium, instead emphasizing visual spectacle and movement. Audiences responded strongly to these films, like this one by the Lumiere Brothers, due to the simple fact that they had never seen photographs set in motion before. Just a few years later, however, as this sense of novelty began to wear off, Georges Melies, the Lumiere Brothers, and others introduced narrative into their shorts. Like the reading emphasizes, it certainly seems that story-telling is human nature, for it didn’t take long to become apparent that directors wanted to tell stories, and audiences wanted to watch these stories. Nevertheless, the undeniable beauty of this brief yet hypnotic film from 1899 suggests the possibility of a non-narrative type of movie-making, a possibility that avant-garde directors have been exploring since.

LOVE Park

This project seems like a great time to consider the responsibilities of artists creating public works and the way the public actually responds to these pieces. Edmund Bacon was the designer of LOVE Park here in Philadelphia. It was built during the 1960s and became a skate landmark in the 1990s (here is a video that conveys just how much skateboarders came to love the park: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMRwKBrJ_UU). Yet in 2000, a bill was passed banning skating in the park because it was “damaging to urban environments.” I don’t know if you all have visited LOVE, but, in the decade that has passed, it has quite frankly become a frightening place. A 2003 survey said 69% of Philadelphians would prefer to open the park back up to skateboarders, and DC Shoes offered to pay $1 million to maintain the area and have it reopened to skateboarders. In the video here, the designer of the park himself urges Philadelphia’s authorities to reopen LOVE to skaters. While the video may be adorable and hilarious, it also poses an important question: “If a work of public art was so warmly embraced by a particular group–to the approval of the public and the artist–why would the government step in and try to alter this response?” To me, the bill was a thinly veiled rejection of a misunderstood subculture. In this instance, the artist did his part–creating an engaging work of art– and the public did its part–interacting with the work–, and the government quite simply fucked up.

Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada and Culture Jamming

As Jorge Rodriquez-Gerada explains on his website, http://www.jorgerodriguezgerada.com/54-culture-jamming, “during the early ´90s, I altered countless billboards and undertook guerrilla performances that called the attention of the media. All of these activities were focused in and around the New York City area. I was one of the founders of the ‘Culture Jamming’ movement, which was the beginning of what later became public space advocacy Street Art.” According to Wikipedia, “culture jamming sometimes entails transforming mass media to produce ironic or satirical commentary about itself, using the original medium’s communication method.” Rodriguez-Gerada is certainly doing that here; he took a preexisting ad and altered it in such a way as to make a statement, causing passersby to stop in their tracks and look at something in a new way.

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