New Media Post Industrialization

Since new media is programmable, animations have become a lot better. If in the past, cartoonist used “flip-o-rama” techniques to create movements, now it can be done using the computer. Not only does this make animations easier and faster to make, but also more efficient. Last week when we watched Pokémon, we noticed that the camera shots would freeze on characters’ face to emphasize their facial expression. However, with computerized media, cartoonists can create more mobile characters.

Computerized techniques like green screen and sound effects also enhance the quality of movies. Actors no longer need to pose next to a live beast, and instead can be in front of a green screen when portraying a safari scene. Similarly, numerical coding of media and modular structure of a media object in new media can be manipulated to add or remove pieces from a photograph. We see this in the increase of a single actor playing their own on-screen twin (i.g.  Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap, Jackie Chan in Twin Dragons, Adam Sandler in Jack and Jill).

Lev Manovich says that new media object has independent parts, which he previously links to the industrialization concepts in America such as the Assembly Line. If capitalism followed post industrialization, then we can see the significance of using independent parts. In doing so, it is more efficient because if one aspect fails, the whole media is not gone to total waste. Only the failed part will need to be recreated. It’s a way to reduce cost and increase profit. Quickbooks uses automation of media in a way that when users input a few data, the software can produce various financial reports. This logic of new media coincides with our postindustrial need for “production on demand” and “just in time” services. It raises a very important question: Did new media manipulate us into desiring instant gratification or was new media created to fulfill our need for instant gratification?

As with everything related to post industrialization and capitalism, questions about privacy continue to surface as more and more media is stored online.

 

Lost in Translation

Emily Dickinson’s poem is a depressing and true account of reflecting on how there are instances and situations in life where one can be alone and feel this loneliness deep inside their soul. Immediately after reading this poem, it reminded me of today’s society and the effects of social media on the mentality of this generation. Social media is a great example because ever since social media became widely accepted and popular, depression and suicide rates have increased alongside it. There is a belief that social media and the internet are beneficial if you know how to use it for good. It creates “a solitude of space” where one can be active throughout parts of the world via Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Fred Benenson’s Emoji Dick translates the classical novel by Herman Melville. It was interesting and weird reading emoji symbols instead of words where the image takes the place of the text. There is a saying that a picture can stand for a thousand words however, can an emoji perform the same way? Even though I am active in social media however, I couldn’t interpret some of the emojis. In order for emojis to take place in literature, we will first have to learn how to read them.

So, my question is in the future, will literature be altered to emojis to accommodate the new future generation? If it did, what is going to be altered, modified or enhanced? Can nonverbal communication be inserted in literature? Will Literature be lost in translation?

 

Meet the new media…same as the old media

Manovich’s article “The Language of New Media” takes great pains to differentiate burgeoning 21st Century technology as a new paradigm shift and in many ways he is right.  The algorithmic basis for digital media has revolutionized  how we process information and has created a nearly 4th-dimensional world in which we interact with other humans as an online presence as much as in person. What I liked about his essay was the deliberate delineation between what he considers new media and what is not. The article brought back old arguments regarding analog vs. digital quality in the 80s in music consumption.  When digital music, aka compact discs, were first released, audiophiles complained about their thin sound as cold and overly layered, partly because most compact discs originally were transfers of analog music previously released on vinyl. When music producers and engineers learned how to expand the sound into the more spacious background of digital formats, the sound improved. In evolving towards mp3 files, there is now a new complaint about the compression levels of the files that, ironically, limit the spectrum of sound for the ear-bud using generation. When one considers how Photoshop, CGI, and ProTools have radically reshaped the composition and delivery of photography, film/tv, and music over the past 25 years, it would make sense to assume a new strategy of analysis is necessary.  A caveat with this assertion is that all media at some point was new and it is the human experiencing it who actually updates his/her processing more than the technology. Consider that in 1933, stop-motion photography made King Kong a state-of-the-art technological blockbuster but would seem dated by the time Star Wars debuts in 1977. Compare the special effects of that film to the CGI of Jurassic Park in 1991 and against that to the Matrix films later in 2000’s. Even as the viewer becomes more sophisticated in recognizing the technology, each of those movies still holds up to some degree because of the seamless integration with an engaging narrative.

Image result for king kong 1933

Image result for star wars death star battle 1977

Image result for jurassic park

Image result for matrix morpheus vs neo

 

Manovich makes a paradoxical statement about new media by stressing the finite capacity of digital files in storage, manipulation, and delivery yet also acknowledges that society is overwhelmed with data and information because of this condition. Yet every generation in every era finds itself in this dilemma. What we think of as an analog vinyl album involves hours of tape manipulation by sound engineers in both pre- and post-production-one take of a guitar track might be sync’ed up to a drum track recorded separately and the vocals might have been performed in isolation to the entire band. Cinema goes even further with this ever since D. W. Griffith’s pioneering of continuity editing and Eisenstein’s montage experiments. These were all radical techniques for their time that changed the audience’s perception and expectations of the art form and have been so ingrained into our collective artistic language that they now are a part of the medium’s grammar.

So my question relates back to Manovich’s concerns about Artificial Intelligence-we are now on the cusp of creating functional AI. In the spirit of our Adaptation course, if AI grows so sophisticated that it can generate art, how does that affect us as human consumers of said product?

Is This Where Media and Culture Are Headed?

I won’t say that I’m mad reading Benenson’s “Emoji Dick,” because it’s one of those “I’m not mad, I’m actually impressed” kind of moments in time. But, as an English teacher who also works in digital media and is immersed in this kind of contemporary and current technological communication, coupled with a magnifying glass on the new generation, I have one burning question:

Is this where literature, culture, and media are headed?

To say that all literature will die out eventually would be moot–literature will continue on for centuries to come and for some reason, even if students in the future are reading The Odyssey on tablets in the future, I have a feeling they will still be immersed in the classics. But, already, I see my students comfortable in the reality of using things like “No Fear Shakespeare” and Spark Notes as a crutch in all of their literary lives, doing away with the true satisfaction and experience of reading a novel.

While I think that Benenson’s idea here is brilliant and clever and creative; I worry that things like this will deter a generation who is already always looking for the easy way out of almost everything involved in academia.  With the Internet in their pockets, it’s universally known that students today, in both high school and college, are lazy an used to the idea that they can look anything up on Google. It takes away from the idea that academia is a place to expand your mind. Many students look for the routine easy way out of looking up other people’s essays and re-typing it into their own words, forgoing the process of reading a novel and interpreting it themselves in a well-structured paper.

With the idea of translating a famous work of art into an “emoji” novel, it is a sense of connecting to a younger generation, but things are often lost in translation when it comes to emojis and texting. How often do you use emojis to text people and the message is completely misinterpreted because you perceive an icon to mean one thing, while a friend of yours knows it to mean another? Perfect example: the eggplant emoji may mean one thing to a younger generation, but to my mom, it’s just an eggplant.

Looking at other forms of modern media—such as Twitter and even Snapchat—if the story of Moby Dick were to be told in a condensed social media version of 140 characters or less, the novel itself would, in my opinion, lose what makes it a true work of art. Those moments of literary description with metaphors and symbolism would be thrown out the window and instead, we would be left with just the bones of the story. And, yes, you can sum up the plot by doing this—learning exactly what happens in the novel and the exposition. But, you’d lose the true art and experience of reading literature.

The American Classic Moby Dick Retold in Emojis For “21st Century Audience”

  • Do you find emojis capable to translate written work to communication especially a
    literary classic work of Moby Dick?
  • What do you think of the idea of a great work of literature retold with “internet
    acronym,” “emojis” or even “tweets?”
  • Emojis do express emotional feelings such as happiness, sadness, anger, etc. but how emojis handle Captain Ahab’s obsession and monomaniac revenge?
  • How can you picture a silent movie where there are only emoticons that support a
    complex socio-politico communication?
  • Can Emojis and hieroglyphs have any common dominator or similarity?

Reading Fred Benenson Emoji Dick, or the Whale makes me wonder how he came up with such a witty and brilliant idea at the same time, paying people thousand of money to convert a great literary into Emojis.

There’s no shadow of a doubt that there’s a high possibility that emojis can cause communication losses, the same way the translation does from one language to another language, albeit they all “support a written expression” based on the original text. But as Benenseon asks elsewhere suppose, Ishmael shared his tale about his Captain Ahab in tweets? I would think it won’t only turn into entertaining and a humorous “Whale Tale” but its entire plot will be discussed in a condensed form where events and characters are read in a quickest and simplest form.

Although It is expected that this emoji work is a guide from professionals or researchers who have worked in the field of communication where the specialty is “emoji studies,” but how are we going to guarantee that the way the message is translated is the same way it is originally told in emoji version:

This excerpt make you “lost in translation.” It shows  precisely 10 emojis in comparison to all the writing of 5 lines beneath it.

Ironically, this translation  converted 22 words, excluding punctuation, into 28 emojis.

For this reason and due to different users, the use of emojis may not necessarily mean the same thing. Other major factors can be gender, age, cultural differences which can trigger differences in the perception of emojis.

On the Medium and the Message — Week of 5/5

Which is more noticable: the content or the medium?

 

I am choosing to write about McLuhan’s piece in relation to Pokemon because I’m actually somewhat confused.

McLuhan writes that “the medium is the message” and it only matters “what one did with the machine” and that’s what “its meaning or message” is (7). For media, the “content of any medium is always another medium” (8). Machine media also depends on fragmentation (8). It gets complicated when it gets to modern media, such as video games since “the content…is noticed” and not the medium (9). The birth of movies and video games brings the “transition from linear connections to configurations” (12).

An interesting concept McLuhan brings up is that “technological media are staples or natural resources” (21).

As I played the game, and watched the episodes this week, I am starting to question what the content and message of Pokemon are.

It’s complicated, because the content of the video games relies on the content of the tv shows. Yet, the mediums are very different. Pokemon Red came out around 1998, while the TV series began in 1997. So, technically, we are talking about the same time, but in graphics, games are every different than shows. The game has lower graphics, and therefore, the mediums are very different.

There’s also the idea that the player controls the content in the video games, while the viewer just views the content in the tv show.

I don’t know if I agree that the content is noticed, not the medium, because while I am enrapt in the story, when looking at the two comparatively, the difference between the mediums is way too noticeable, even in the modern age. I am sitting there analyzing the graphics, the images, and even the way the characters’ mouths don’t actually form the words. I do notice how the characters say repetitive things in the video games, and I do notice how the events are sequenced together in such a way that the player must move through the same cuts of the game, while making different decisions or else begin at the same sequence. I notice the way the video game’s music is repetitive while the tv show can blend together several sounds.

So, I do think that the medium is noticed just as much as the actual content.

In an unrelated way, I also find it somewhat interesting how this society portrays Pokemon as its natural resource, and it is what the entire media is based on.

Has Mass Media Always Kept Black Women In A Box?

bell hooks has always been one of my favorite feminist theorists when it comes to mass media and popular culture—particularly because it challenges the norm of Laura Mulvey’s “male gaze” theory in cinema and media. For years, film revolved around white women and white men—white men portraying their desires and their fantasies onto the spectator of a film because men hold the utmost authority in film (representing a patriarchal society).

Not once in Mulvey’s writing do we bring race into the conversation—only gender. But, race plays a vital role in the theorization of film and women’s role in film. hooks therefore extends and challenges the conversation Mulvey introduces, bringing race and even class into the conversation. hooks challenges the conversation saying that while a white woman’s role in film is to be the object of desire, a black woman’s role in the film is quite the opposite. Black women in film originated as a way to either further the sexual desire/attraction of a white woman on screen, or to “soften” the image of black men and make them seen vulnerable or unthreatening to a white audience.

Image result for the oppositional gaze examples

hooks points out that originally in film and TV, black women were not seen in a positive, or desirable light. She points to shows like the Mammy and the Sapphire show to showcase how black women were exaggerated to be unattractive and unrelatable. But, their role on TV made the white woman all that more attractive to the spectator. Additionally, it takes the edge off of black men on television and film. In a society who is not used to seeing black men in power, the black woman was used to “soften the blow” of seeing a black man on the big screen.

Image result for mammy

She also points out that these roles turned many black women off from even viewing films—they were insulted to see that the only way they were portrayed on film was to enhance that of white supremacy and culture. And, that’s where the oppositional gaze is formed. Through the objection of the way in which their roles are seen on the big screen—misrepresented and misunderstood—the oppositional gaze is formed.

The only way that the oppositional gaze can exist is by women questioning why they are portrayed in film and television in this way and demand answers.

While hooks wrote and coined this in the early ’90s, and TV and film have both come a long way in diversifying the way in which they showcase black women and other minorities—it’s in Internet and meme culture that we have now found a problem.

In my experience in working with web culture and digital journalism, meme and GIF culture have misrepresented black womanhood to be one, confined box—a woman with attitude and sass. This is shown in GIFs, memes, and other media platforms in which white people will use to showcase a certain emotional response on social media.

Some popular examples:

My question for hooks and for a follow-up would be: how does the oppositional gaze transfer over to Internet and meme culture now that many people are grossly misrepresenting black womanhood and trickling it down to be this over-exaggerated, almost camp-like persona of being a “black woman?”

*Safe Word* Piikaaachuuuuuuu

Why did I not watch Pokémon willingly when I was younger?! At least, now I can appreciate it more since I am paying more attention to the small details and seeing it beyond just a “kid show.” Most of the episodes have a formulaic storyline with catchy songs, Pokémon battles, defeating Team Rocket, and the subplot of character/relationship development between the main characters. Basically, it is easy to follow but it also gets your mind thinking, especially during Pokémon battles.

I do not know if this has to do with the fact that I have been doing a lot of S&M research for my other class lately, or if Pokémon does actually hint at concepts of S&M. I am specifically talking about certain scenes such as when Pikachu gets electrocuted to gain more power, everytime a pokémon is weakened to be captured inside a pokéball, and in the beginning when Ash is accepting of being electrocuted by Pikachu to gain his trust.

The animation of Pokémon is interesting because sometimes it reminded me as though I am reading a comic book. Certain scenes capture whatever is happening but almost as if it is a still photo. I guess this is done to highlight the impact of the force (i.e., in battle scenes). The effect is also used for head shots when the emphasis wants to be placed on a character’s expression.

I think Jessie, James and Meowth have a very interesting dynamic. Normally, in the Pokémon world, there are trainers and their Pokémons. However, with Team Rocket, the role is often reversed because it seems as though Jessie and James are Meowth’s sidekicks. Not only does their dynamic question the existing roles in their society, but also what could happen if pokémons decided to stop being used/abused by humans for mankind benefits.  

What are some thoughts that came up when you were watching Pokémon? If you have watched the show when you were younger, would you agree that you see the show in a whole, new light?

P.S. My favorite scene was in “The Ultimate Test,” when they were taking the test in hopes of advancing to the competition without having to travel to different places to gain them individually. With Kim Kardashian passing her “baby bars” and with multiple celebrity SAT’s controversies, we can all agree that these tests are brutal and often lead people to do things out of their element. Shortcuts in life are not really shortcuts, but are just illusions.

 

Whose line is it anyway?

How should an audience or a critic deal with paradox in a work of art?  Is paradox crucial to the definition of a particular work as “great?”

After reading JAcqueline Bobo’s article regarding the responses of black women to The Color Purple during its release, and the outrage it engendered in black men, it made me revisit the notion of what makes “great art.” How can a movie elicit such polarizing attitudes towards it from the demographic it depicts? I remember seeing the movie as a teenager (so far back that it was on VHS!) and  having the same visceral experience as only a few films ever have (The Miracle Worker comes to mind).  After seeing it again, I understand both perspectives more deeply and recognize the flaws in its narrative and characterization but the ending is still resonant.  Which raises a further question about paradox, especially through the lens which Bobo describes regarding Lawrence Grossberg’s 3 categories of decoding: dominant, negotiated, and oppositional. The question becomes oxymoronic-if the viewer sympathizes with Celie’s denigration while enjoying the movie, despite the commercial nature of cinema demanding that its source material be bowdlerized for a mass white audience, then is the viewer participating in upholding the societal apparatus by which some people are oppressed? Can the viewer find a fourth means of decoding the film that transcends Grossberg’s analysis?

I was wondering about this enough that I re-read Roger Ebert’s reviews of the film on his website. I did this specifically because of a passage which is taken from his Great Movies series, the criterion for it being that it’s a film he deems that everyone should see at least once.  His original review called for it to win Best Film and Whoopi Goldberg to win Best Actress (it was nominated for 11 and won none) but in his 1992 update he wrote:

“When a movie character is really working, we become that character. That’s what the movies offer: Escapism into lives other than our own. I am not female, I am not black, I am not Celie, but for a time during “The Color Purple,” my mind deceives me that I am all of those things, and as I empathize with her struggle and victory I learn something about what it must have been like to be her.

Celie is a great powerful movie character, played with astonishing grace and tenderness, and to feel her story is to be blessed with her humanity. Have we all felt ugly? Have we all been afraid to smile? Have we all lost precious things in our lives? Have we dared to dream? Celie endures and prevails, and so hope lives. If it touches you deeply enough, it’s not just only a movie.”

Bobo states in her article that Alice Walker sold the screen rights so that its story of a young, abused, uneducated girl discovers her own worthiness through bonding with other females would be exposed to a wider audience than the book-reading realm. After watching the film again, and reading the book, I agree with Ebert. For a brief moment (in the scheme of one’s lifespan), I experienced an out-of-body dimensionality rarely felt. Does my decoding now become oppositional, negotiated, dominant, or something else entirely?

I think my decoding becomes more human which seems to be the point of both the novel and the film.

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