All posts by yurakim

Technology to Art: The Round Peg in a Square Hole

The world that M. T. Anderson creates in Feed is a frightening one. This is not simply because his vision is meant to reflect our present culture to some degree, but it is because each and every character – disregarding Violet and her father – is profoundly lonely, trapped in isolation from fear. Their conception of friendship, intimacy, family, self-worth, life, and death is twisted and deformed, revolving around the shared delusion that happiness is pleasure and that love and acceptance is easily obtainable as long as one acts predictably. I cannot describe how much this novel disturbs me.

For this blog, I will focus on the world’s absence of art as the general public’s means to promote an abject ignorance and escapism from necessary mortal struggles.

Technology becomes a means to avoid fears of loneliness and death, and to escape sorrow. According to Sigmund Freud, art is created as a result of repression. An overflow of desires and questions means that intimidating notions such as death and the unknown often become the subject of thought in art and literature as a way of coping. Our fear and fascination drives us to pursue answers, thus artists create art while viewers look to art to fulfill their own desires. The artist’s expression becomes a way for viewers to connect with the rest of society and breach common individual fears.

However, in Titus’s bent world, there is hardly any mention of such expression; instead, the role that art takes in providing society with a coping mechanism is replaced with technology like the Feed, bombarding them with advertisements and transient pleasures to distract from vital thought.

 

True art – that is art that makes one ponder life’s qualities and sorrows – is entirely avoided, when mentioned. At the same time, some other art forms like music and film are no longer used to approach these heavy topics; rather they exist to extinguish them.

At the hospital on the moon, there is a painting of a boat with sails up, but devoid of people.  Although this painting is most likely just an image meant to relax patients and not necessarily a masterpiece in itself, Titus exclaims how boring and pointless it is and how little he sees happening in the image. He says, “I couldn’t figure out even the littlest reason to paint a picture like that” (Anderson 45). His initial reaction of boredom dissolves into “pissiness” as he is forced to stare at the painting and begins to notice how “there was no one on board to look at the horizon” (49). Titus has tried to reject the painting by playing games and connecting to the Feed, but due to his condition he instead is forced to see this generic painting of a boat. His ability to see the absence of people is a reflection of his own fear, while his frustration at how boring it is is his attempt to flee the thought of loneliness and emptiness.

The notion of self-expression and the search for any deeper meaning of life is so far removed from Titus that he calls it “stuff” (66). When Violet shows Titus that she can write and read, Titus is shocked and even demeans its value by asking about its inconvenience, “Doesn’t your hand get all cramped up?” (66). His concern is of ease of practice, and he is blind to the expansion of the mind one could experience through literature.

Art through film is severely lacking, as we learn only about the very popular show Oh? Wow! Thing!, involving “these kids like us who do stuff but get all pouty, which is what the girls go crazy for, the poutiness” (48). The title itself is testament to the obligatory brainlessness the society buys into.

Art through music seems to be rather hopeless as well, as they are created not through emotion or the pursuit of sending a message, but to “get thirteen-year-old girls screaming” (101). Like a marketed drug, songs like “I’ll Sex You In” are perversely catchy and clearly only about temporal, physical pleasures (51). Just as Violet predicts, there is “no difference between a song and an advertising jingle anymore” and songs are simply another thing to get consumers hooked on and talking about (101). Titus, who desperately attempts to withdraw from his fears and discomforts, even notices how distracting the music is as he enjoys his time with Violet. In a rather dark scene, Violet and Titus enjoy the perfect night and look back inside to “see people moving to nothing” (88). This picture is the manifestation of this society’s escapism: they move to nothing and for no purpose other than to delude themselves into thinking they are having a good time and living life to its fullest.

 

By using technology to avoid and become uninterested in penetrative art, we see that art – which is supposed to be a way to relate to other viewers and confront the struggles of life – becomes unneeded, completely replaced by the Feed. The Feed feeds its users an excess of pleasures to overwhelm and distract. The dismemberment of the viewing society in understanding crucial questions involving mortality is the reason why fears are not dealt with, instead drowned out by loud noises and sexual innuendo. The absence of art in this society becomes the mirror to this society’s shallowness and empty desires.

Flarf Poem: Into Out of

Into Out of

 

Into university partnerships

Out of African furnace milk

Onto linear algebra lessons

Off the hookah, Richmond?

 

From up on poppy hill

To kill a ,pvlomhnotf.

Around the horn

Amid the falling snow

 

Beside the dying fire, themselves

Between the raindrops

 

 

I looked up google search suggestions of prepositions to look for interesting phrases. I really had no other intention other than to make this poem as vague and confusing as I could, to hopefully induce some sort of wacky thought in my reader. According to Lydia Moyer, my new media teacher, the artist has claim to whatever the viewer gets out of the artist’s work, whether or not it was his or her intention in the first place. Perhaps, someone will make sense of what I put so little of my own sense into. Also to add to the whole idea of having no idea, I tried to make the ending abrupt, as it was never intended to develop a complete thought.

Long Blog Post Prompt 2 – 10:01 by Tim Guthrie

 10:01

Text by Lance Olsen

Site by Tim Guthrie

http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/olsen_guthrie__10_01/1001.html

This piece allows viewers to interactively follow the thoughts of witnesses during a fictional bombing of the Mall of America. A view from the back of the mall’s theater shows the silhouettes of the crowd as the screen glooms in the front. Using the cursor, viewers may click on the heads of each audience member, pulling up a box of narrative that we realize is a description of the clicked person’s thoughts. Relevant images occasionally float to the side of this box while sounds will sometimes kick in and loop as you read. The members of the crowd include drug users, cripples, Josh Hartnett in disguise, married couples, sexually curious couples, a schizophrenic murderer, and many more. In their brief descriptions we are not only given glimpses into their pasts, but also a peek into their grim end in the near future.

The text is written by Lance Olsen while this interaction between viewers and his text is provided by Tim Guthrie. What makes this set-up so interesting is the timeline of it all. At the top of each narrative is a time for how far into the movie the thoughts of the character are made. Thus we are, in a way, reading their anecdotes in real time. As the viewer we float above the crowd and can essentially poke a hole into each person’s mind and peek in as the movie is assumed to be progressing before their eyes. (Let me note that the movie’s genre changes from James Bond action, to pervy action comedy, to war. Perhaps this cryptic movie is supposed to reflect the difficulty viewers have in understanding the minds of these dark characters.) The sound effects that come with a few of these also simulate the live action and connection with the characters. While it seems that the intended method of reading is through reading each person’s narrative in the order of the movie’s progression, it is still possible to click the individual heads at will and read through all of their “chapters” in succession. This disturbs the plotline of the eventual panic as the room collapses and suicide bombers invade the mall, so it is not recommended unless reviewing a character’s past episodes.

Perhaps not as helpful as intended, hyperlinks are included throughout the descriptions and bring readers to pretty predictable websites. For example, the word “hyperhidrosis” leads to a medical page for the condition. Another link is highlighted over “Walgreens” and thus leads to the Walgreens homepage. Maybe there is a reason to highlight these specific words that lead to nowhere surprising, alas I cannot figure the reasoning for this, other than to remind viewers that we are in the realm of a very different medium from a paperback novel.

The text itself is, in my opinion, very controversial. We are given the opportunity to view the very graphic and revolting thoughts of some pretty despicable people. In fact, many are not likeable in the least bit. One character waits till his neighbor is out in order to sneak in and explore this stranger’s home at his leisure. Another character represents the stereotypical rich white woman’s superiority complex and believes that she is helping and cleansing the world when she is entirely ignorant of her own hubris. The one very obviously African American character is given a very racist description as she comments on the “wack shit… involving a skinny-assed whiteboy in some phat-up silks.” Finally, perhaps one of the most disturbing reports was of one woman, a self-made porn actress, and her assumed memories of being raped by three football players.

These narratives are dark, to say the least, but if the intention is to spotlight the darkest characters of America – as the story is set in the Mall of America – then I suppose both Olsen and Guthrie did a good job.

Novels, as dark as this, are not uncommon. Plenty of stories involve rape and racism. However, what makes this method of telling the story, as opposed to the page-by-page readings we are used to, particularly powerful is that we can ease ourselves into the story however we would like to. The order is up to us. In addition to that, our senses are engaged in a way similar to when we watch a movie. We can hear the harsh breaths of teenagers in heat, as well as see the reddening of vision of a maniac as he tumbles to the ground and envisions his father whipping him as a child. This, along with the visible time notations, provides us with a more vivid experience in the theater with these dark souls, doomed to very soon experience a tragic, fiery death.

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War of the Worlds Project Proposal

Ally Ouellette, James Cassar, Yura Kim, Eric Weitzner

 

Mission statement:

One of the major feats of this novel is its convincing and creative conception of life from other worlds. After supposed sightings of canal-like features on the surface of Mars, the claim that there could be intelligent life on Mars became widely circulated.

However, this novel marked a significant change in the perception of intelligent life. Prior to this novel, aliens were imagined to be benevolent and even generous creatures, sharing their wisdom with us. This book is the first invention of a hostile alien invasion story. Its influence after its publication was evident then and is still evident in culture today, demonstrating the general fear within society with the approach of war.

We would like to address what makes this novel so successful and to explore how the adaptations and re-publications of the novel reflect changes and developments in society. Our timelines and comparisons of various War of the Worlds adaptations are aimed to not only provide beginning researcher’s knowledge and background of the way in which the novel was written, but also knowledge in the way it has been perceived and reconceived.

As a group we hope to discover ourselves how a single novel can reflect and project new societal fears and concerns.

 

Existing resources:

From the novel alone, readers can see one of the earliest imaginings of life on Mars. By bringing in movie advertisements, brief movie clips, animated GIFs, and links to longer clips of the 1954 and 2005 film adaptations, we can offer visual aids and their relation to imagery associated with major historical events. These events would include both World Wars, Vietnam War, Korean War, 9/11, and the Invasion of Iraq. In addition to these, we will create timelines that mark the passage of events from the novel and compare them to the passage of events and their locations from the novel’s adaptations. Our libraries have valuable versions of the text that include illustrations by Wells himself, in addition to several critical texts that are supplemented with lists of historical events that affected and were affected by Wells’ writing.

 

Group organization plan:

Ally and Eric will work on the timelines, which include timelines of events for the novel and its multiple adaptations, as well as timeline noting the historical events in correlation to the various publications. Yura will supply the website with relevant visual material as well as illustrations from the author himself. She will also do comparisons of the developments and changes in the imagined technology. James will function as the group’s technological expert, overseeing the upkeep and clean transfer of content from Google Doc to final project.

Tasks will be managed by regular check-ups and shared Google Docs with collected information and discovery. There will be weekly meetings (either in-person or via Google Chat) to make sure the group is on track to complete the site on time.

 

Tools:

We will most likely be using Omeka for the timeline so we can provide a visually appealing, easily navigable, and informative timeline. This will require a bit of research and time learning how to use the program.. Embedding videos, GIFs, and links to our website will supplement the Omeka installation.

 

Detailed plan and timeline:

Our main objective is to give viewers a better idea of how the adaptations have developed over time and in correlation to major historical events. We will be considering the films and the re-publications. Thus, the site will include multiple tabs dedicated to the variations on the novel, all supplemented with visual aids and links to possible applications or other relevant discoveries. This supplementary information will also present visual comparisons of the Martians and Machines as depicted in the major adaptations of the original text.

As we collect this surplus of information, we will also take the time to input our own realizations. The use of Orson Welles’ broadcast of 1938  in particular is an experiment of the novel’s themes on society of that time. Thus we will be able to reflect on the projection of fears of war.

For the timelines, specifically, if plot points are the same will be marked on the timeline as having occurred at the same time with the same explanatory notes. If different they will be marked accordingly with explanatory notes explaining where the differences might have originated that deviate from scholarly insight.

If the group is unable to complete the initial plan fully, the aspects that are most significant to our goal would be timelines on the original text, the radio broadcast, and the two films. These comparisons will not only look into the progression of events but also the differences in creating a convincing and threatening alien invasion.

 

Milestones:

***Book should have been read by last Sunday, February 23rd.
By March 16: James should become acquainted with all digital tools (mainly Omeka) used in the project.

By March 22: First group meeting; rudimentary timelines constructed via Google Docs

By March 29: Omeka install should reflect work on timelines and should be operable

By April 6: Second group meeting; troubleshooting and tweaking the digital project

By April 13: Third group meeting; Yura’s visual aids should be posted to site to complement Omeka data

By April 25: Last group meeting; final revisions made to project — this can happen before the 25th if possible!

Google Maps

Google Maps, created in 2005, has allowed us an actual sense of where things are exactly in the world from thousands of miles away. It’s become so ubiquitous that it’s hard to imagine a life without it. I’m sure you’ve needed to go somewhere in the city and wondered about parking, so you’ve used the Street View capability to see where parking spots are in the area. Did you ever need to find your way around a new area for a morning jog? You can select the “walking” option rather than the “car” option. If you wanted to take a certain highway or side road, different from the one suggested to you, you can draw in a new line over the path you would like to take and adjust your route. Already, the significant advantages we have with access to Google Maps at a desktop and especially on our mobile devices are astounding.

Of course, the possibilities are endless with an application like this. For example, you can check out Google Moon and Google Mars to zoom in on these extra-terrestrial surfaces. There is such great access to seeing whatever building in the world we desire, that there was even concern over potentially threatening usage of Google Maps. Certain high security places like the White House are actually burred out. At the same time, though, North Korea is completely open and visible with Google Maps. ( http://www.itsecurity.com/features/51-things-not-on-google-maps-071508/)

Google Maps has even been used to create art. The Grammy-winning, Arcade Fire, won great recognition for their first interactive music video with their song, “We Used to Wait.” To begin this you first enter the address of your childhood home. I don’t want to give it away, but you are basically led to the streets of your childhood with the help of Google Maps. Check it out – it’s pretty spectacular. www.thewildernessdowntown.com

Arcade Fire Interactive

Woman v Lady

I am currently in many classes dealing with the role of women in literature and religion. Thus, I found it appropriate that I base my research on the word, “woman.” I decided to first compare the two words, “woman” and “lady,” since these are both associated with certain societal expectations in the female role.

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It seemed like “woman” was always the typical vernacular when referring to someone who is a female. However, “lady” is more prevalent in the 18th century when a lady is meant to become a mother and wife, always catering to her husband’s needs. The split between the two happens around the 1840s. Previous to this split, books like The Coquette and Charlotte Temple, were written in order to emphasize a woman’s fidelity and chastity. These books were pedantic and meant to reflect the cultural values at the time, as well as teach women how to carry themselves. This, I noticed, is not very reflected in the graph, unfortunately, probably because women are not often the main characters of literature at the time.

The graph from 1700 to 2000 illustrates the difference between the two words today, as well. The trend for “lady” is a pretty steady decline, whereas the use of “woman,” which is used just as often as “lady” in the earlier centuries, gets used more regularly closer to the 2000s. Nowadays, “woman” has taken the additional meaning of someone who is strong and independent. Because it is clear that the word has taken new form, I decided to try out the word, “woman,” in addition to its possible associations. I tried adjectives such as “strong,” “independent,” “powerful,” “proper,” and “motherly.” I hoped that these would trend in their respective cultural associations.

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For the most part, this is the case. “Strong,” “independent,” and “powerful” become the most used of the five in that respective order. These word associations are hidden connotations of the depiction of the female within literature. Thus we can see from the graph that women in literature become more associated with power than the domestic realm. Their independent characteristics are emphasized as opposed to their influence on their husband and children.

There is a particular spike that I found interesting, as well. In the 1950s, “motherly” hops significantly. I expected this to be the result of the returning husbands from WWII. As the men left for the war, the women took over the workforce, and afterwards, when the men return the women must also return to the domestic realm.  It seems that this is a reflection of the cultural values of the time.