Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mass Market of Art

Nicholas Bourriaud talks in his book The Radicant about the rise in mass marketing in the 1990s. This was due mainly to the existence of the internet. In order to make up for this lack or original items based on quantity rather than quality, smaller shops like boutiques tried to emphasize an object's originality, "denying the existence of quantity, creating the illusion of scarcity, and playing on the obscure nostalgia for privation (Bourriaud, 105)." He adds the point that this all indicates that a product's uncommonness is more important that what it was made out of, or how it was really made.

This made me really think over what it is that we value in our culture and I believe that it is true that if something seems to be "original" people think it's cooler or more valuable even if it's technically not. This is also very relevant to contemporary art. Nowadays people seem to just be trying to do something rare, something that will shock people, something that hasn't been done before... and they aren't necessarily valuing anymore what the effort was, and the materials went into it.

Now I'm pretty sure that this video clip from Monty Python's Flying Circus is totally relevant. A lot of people loved this show, and a lot of people didn't understand it, or they didn't want to. It was something new and shocking at the time, yet it was fairly simple.

Beirut... the band!!

The other day I stumbled across a Beirut video on youtube, and I found myself completely entranced by it. I'm not sure exactly how to explain my current obsession, but it definitely has a lot to do with the creativity of both the music and the filming process. For example, not only is the following video set up in an unconventional way, but they are playing the music with random items like pool cues and ping pong paddles.

Each of the three full length albums evokes a different place. The first album found its inspiration when Zach Condon (Beirut started as his solo project) traveled around Europe after dropping out of high school. While he was there, he was exposed to Balkan folk music, which is definitely very evident in the music that he started playing after this. The second album has a heavy French feel because Condon was very into French chanson and the time. And the third album has a Mexican influence as Condon had just come back from a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. He even got musicians from a small village outside of Oaxaca to play on this album.

The way that Condon is inspired by his own experiences is very related to the project that I am working on now because it draws from the experiences of others (in the form of dreams), and my experiences with also play an important role in how I put it together. I'd really like to learn from the filming styles of Beirut's videos, because some of them are very dreamlike, and also because I would like to try to set up things in unconventional ways. I'm going to be posting some snippets of interviews that I have been working on some time in the next couple of days, as well as some excerpts from the storyboard that I'm working on.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jodi Sedlock and more progress reporting

After hearing Jodi Sedlock talk this past week about how she went from being an art student to a biology professor I got to thinking a lot about contingency. It seemed that a lot of the reasons that she got to the place that she is today (being a professor and studying bats in the Philippines) was a big part pure chance. By "chance" I don't just mean coincidence, but also that there were people around her who gave her the chance to do something that she might not otherwise have had an opportunity to do.

Speaking of contingency... here's a link for a book that is all about contingency, and its role in history, specifically World War I. The first time I really thought about the role contingency plays in life was in a Soviet history class last year where my professor stressed how important it was, and that nothing is really inevitable.

This all got me thinking more about my film project that I'm working on now. I'm about to start the stage of making my own film based off the interviews that I have been conducting, and I want to make sure that the process itself as well as the product don't come off as being forced. When I work on editing, I think that sometimes mistakes end up leading down the most interesting paths. That said, I want to make sure that I remain open minded while working on this film, and that I don't keep myself limited to one vision.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Over reading period I was able to finish all of my interviews. I thing I have some pretty good material to work with. This week I am going to look at all of my footage and take notes on the themes that run between them all, and highlight on interesting parts that I can relate to, or bits that I think would be interesting to make into a film. I will also hopefully have time to cut the actual footage down so that I can post some snippets on here.

In the next couple of weeks, I will be creating my own film that combines my vision of dreams along with the visions expressed by those whom I have interviewed. The film that I will be making is extra important to me, as I will probably be using it to apply to film school next year. So it's time to buckle down!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Collaboration: Nomi, Warhol, and Progress Report

I've recently watched a documentary about the musician, Klaus Nomi, and heard a lecture about Andy Warhol. Collaboration is one of the most important things that we can learn from these two artists. Even though Nomi eventually sold out at the end of his career and got rid of his original band, the way in which everything started with him was a series of chance meetings and friends having fun and messing around. Warhol's factory was a place for artists to exchange ideas and just hang out, and some of his collaborations with other artists are among his most interesting pieces.

Even though a lot of the time it may seem hard to work with other people, and to cooperate, looking at what these two men have been able to accomplish with other people shows us just how important doing that can be. Maybe you have an idea that you think is pretty good but you don't know how to carry it out... bouncing ideas off of someone else is usually a pretty good way to get around your obstacle.

This has made me think a lot about what I'm doing in my project. I see it as a kind of collaboration because I am going to base my film off of what other people have told me about their dreams. I'm also always open to suggestions from other people. I really appreciate it when people give me ideas, because it usually adds something totally new that I would never have thought of. So, to all of you out there... any light bulbs? In the next week I will be posting a video of some clips of the interviews that I've been doing.

What a catchy song... good to dance to late at night with your roomie:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Dream Journal #7

It seems that I remember my dreams better when I am woken up frequently. Last night I didn't sleep very well, but each time I woke up I seemed to remember my dream. The theme and people in my dream continued when I fell back asleep, but some things were different.

I was at the Co-Op House formal (which did happen last night), and there was an old man who someone said was a "class officer," who kept trying to get into the party, but we kept physically pushing him out. Then the main space in our house where we were having the party turned into my friend Kevin's room. He was dancing on his bed singing the Wilco song "Reservations." I went out driving with Kevin, my friend Celeste, and the class officer. Kevin, who was driving, fell out of the car and I had to stop it but I couldn't really reach the brake. I managed to stop it right on some woman's lawn, but she didn't really notice. We all went to a Beirut concert that was happening right outside of Hiett Hall. He was playing the song "Postcards from Italy," but I noticed that he was playing it differently than the album version. The class officer was checking IDs. Celeste didn't have her ID, so he made her stand behind a chalk line that he drew. My friend Annelie also didn't have her ID, but she tried to bribe him with a sandwich.

I guess there is someone or something that wants to take away my guilt for violating some law, or norm, or because I haven't fulfilled some sort of responsibility. This makes me feel shamefull. I have reservations about some things, but maybe about other things I am certain. I have started to take charge of my life, but I am still reliant on and powerless with some people. Being able to make my own choices has been part of getting over an obstacle in my life. I'm starting to take pride in my personal capabilities, but other people think I'm overstepping my boundaries. I'm holding some things inside that really frustrate me and bring a lot of stress in my life. It's really hard for me to admit that I need someone's help because I want everyone to think that I can handle everything by myself.

Dream Journal #6

This dream journal is going to be very scattered, as I wrote it down in shorthand right after having the dream and then went back to sleep... so it's a wee bit foggy. But here it is:

Dream #1:
The Viking Room was kicking people out so we (a random group of friends and other people) all went into the old Underground Coffee House, and right outside of it. We were looking onto some tennis courts which became the ocean in the Caribbean. Some of us started kayaking in the beautiful blue water, and we could see straight to the bottom there were some rusty old kayaks sunk down to the ocean floor. A couple of my friends were sitting in lawn chairs and all of a sudden they flew up in them and hit the fence of the tennis courts. They were really high up. Then I went to a swimming pool. The girl I was with used to have a license to be a lifeguard, but it got taken away.

That night there was a party with a lot of disorderly drunk people. It looked kind of like a Co-Op house that I stayed at in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Some big guy with tattoos was taken away by the Residence Hall Director who was saying something like, "I can't believe you just WANT to scrape by in school and not learn anything." I went back to the VR where there was some strange orange powdery thing on the table. I just wanted to drink some orange juice, but some old man who was sitting at my table put acid in it. The next morning I went out to brunch with some people and saw the bar manager with his wife. Our waitress was giving away free hot chocolates on a tray and a head massage that made me feel really uncomfortable.

I want approval for something but I need to be strong. I have started to accept who I am and see my own characteristics and attributes, but this makes other people think that I haven't thought through things enough and made rash decisions. They think that I need to take better care of myself, and this is holding me back and keeping me from expressing how I actually feel. I feel like people around me think that I am behaving in a reckless manner, but one person might be jealous of me or of something I have done. I feel like maybe I am not paying enough attention to school. At the same time I think about how I am young and invincible. I have to express my feelings or else I will be harming myself. People around me who are trying to help me but who I don't appreciate are telling me not to be so impulsive and to avoid giving in to temptations. I should be more trusting of those people.