[-empyre-] Anne and Ben: thinking about fluid identities and making connections

B. Bogart ben at ekran.org
Fri Feb 20 06:10:23 AEDT 2015

Indeed we viewers construct our own continuity from discontinuity, just
as we construct narratives from almost any information.

Perhaps we should not only be critically aware of media centred
illusions of continuity, but also our internal cognitive mechanisms that
smooth out and reconstruct experience as narrative.


On 15-02-18 06:01 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Aren't T.V. or web surfing examples of "cinematic" cuts initiated by the
> participant viewer? Once the activity becomes very prevalent, the mind
> creates its own smoothness making the cuts invisible. After all, when
> the film audiences saw the first locomotive approaching them, many
> thought the train was going to it them. There is a very interesting,
> funny scene in Godard's "Le Carabiniere" where the reverse occurs and
> the illusion becomes visible. A small group of people (soldiers on
> leave) are watching on a makeshift screen a naked woman washing herself
> in a bathtub. One of the soldiers gets up to go see the entirety of the
> naked body hidden by the tub. Touching it, he topples the screen.
> Ciao,
> Murat
> On Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 1:12 PM, Selmin Kara <selminkara at gmail.com
> <mailto:selminkara at gmail.com>> wrote:
>     ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>     Thanks Ben and Andrew for great points and suggestions. Here are a
>     few immediate thoughts. Ben, the type of films I talk about in class
>     are the least dependent on cuts for their intended effect. Most of
>     the editing takes place at the level of compositing (or done
>     digitally, giving only the impression of linear editing or actual
>     cinematography), which highlights layering and non-continuity.
>     Therefore, I am not sure if I care about continuity or smoothness in
>     my presentations. What matters more is compatibility or the
>     platforms ability to integrate various media and a database like
>     structure that would allow me to navigate those media flexibly.
>     Talking about presenting the media makes it sound like I am
>     searching for a good presentation software but it really is more of
>     a matter of what type of scholarship models we can offer to the
>     students. In other words, I am more concerned about the way that the
>     (audiovisual and written) texts I assign present the media. With
>     regard to that, it might be better to explore alternative models
>     instead of trying to pin down one as the standard and to have the
>     option to look at video essays, podcasts, scalar-like webinar
>     formats, or slides of theorists all within the same course. On a
>     side note, I was talking about Carol Vernallis's notion of "the
>     media swirl" when we were discussing the influence of music video
>     aesthetics on cinema two weeks ago and realized that my own
>     reading/viewing/browsing assignments left the same impression.
>     Vernallis's media swirl refers to the condition, in which various
>     media, platforms, styles, and techniques all become part of a
>     dizzying blend, generating its own pleasurable aesthetic. Of course,
>     as I mentioned, some seem to work better than the others, so my
>     question is more exploratory (about which ones work better and what
>     that might suggest for my own research/writing) than prescriptive. 
>     As for the boundaries of media, working in an art and design school
>     setting makes it quite palpable. My students frequently work with
>     media that disfunction, break, or run into its own limits, and I
>     find that they see it as an ice-breaker when things don't work
>     during the presentations (you can always her the chuckles and sighs
>     of relief, since they deal with that every day). Then again, we look
>     at cinematic uses of effects like the glitch and the stutter so
>     perhaps, the error is written into the course or the aesthetics that
>     the course deals with.  
>     Andrew, I am going to check some of your suggestions out! That looks
>     like a great list. 
>     Selmin  
>     On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 3:05 PM, B. Bogart <ben at ekran.org
>     <mailto:ben at ekran.org>> wrote:
>         ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>         Renate, Thanks for the positive effort of reintegrating diverse
>         discussions!
>         Two things in this weeks discussion stand out for me, one is Anne's
>         quote below on fluidity of identity in distributed pedagogical
>         systems,
>         and the other is our expectations in relation to media presentation
>         (powerpoint, Scalar, etc.) brought up by Selmin and Patrick.
>         *Identity* (From continuous to discreet)
>         It seems that in order for our tools to reflect the diversity of our
>         identities, we should reflect on what exactly our identities are
>         constructed of. Are they global (in the sense that they stay
>         stable no
>         matter the context) or are the context-dependent and local (in
>         that they
>         shift depending on the context)? The teacher / student binary is
>         a good
>         example where specialization means that many (most) teachers in one
>         context may be students in another. I expect there is a lot of value
>         (for generalism, interdisciplinarity, etc.) for roles to switch
>         back and
>         forth freely. Then there is the question of gender fluidity,
>         which I'm
>         currently struggling to think about with similar flexibility.
>         I wonder if identities are categories of belonging, or sets of
>         values
>         and perspectives, or constructions we develop in order to relate
>         socially with others, or in order to set ourselves apart in our
>         communities. I expect all of the above. It seems that its not just a
>         matter of our technologies allowing us to reflect our own
>         identities (in
>         all their diversity) but also allow us to change what we consider
>         identity and how its constructed.
>         It's hard to imagine how any centralized corporate system could
>         do this.
>         I can imagine a form in which a person could submit a new label
>         for a
>         gender or aspect of identity, but that is not the same as reflecting
>         underlying continuity (if it is continuous and not discreet).
>         I've never
>         seen a website where gender identity could be provided through a
>         fuzzy
>         scale with super male on one end and super female on the other.
>         What if
>         one dimension is not enough to reflect the complexity of gender?
>         What
>         about a 2D map with male / female (biological) on one axis and man /
>         woman (social) on another axis? Let alone sexual orientation.
>         It seems there is a highly diverse and continuous space of possible
>         identities that a person could associate with, and also a set of
>         labels
>         we use to limit the complexity and build community (through
>         sharing the
>         same labels). How can we articulate this in our technical
>         systems? Or,
>         more importantly, how can we change whatever system is put in place
>         (under the guise of objectivity) to reflect changes in how we
>         construct
>         / present / augment our identities? I find myself always going
>         back to
>         computational / technical literacy as a necessary life skill,
>         dependent
>         on a robust set of commons from which we can hack and rebuild
>         what we need.
>         *Transparency* (From discreet to continuous)
>         Patrick wrote: "Powerpoint is clunky, it's difficult to move between
>         text and video, and sometimes I have trouble loading videos
>         during the
>         presentation."
>         I find this discussion really interesting in how it seems to mirror
>         media boundaries. This is text, that is an image, and there are
>         videos.
>         Presentation software is a modern manifestation of "multimedia"
>         extending the function of a slide projector.
>         There seems to be high expectations for a sense of smoothness and
>         continuity between these forms of media, while they are treated
>         in the
>         computer very differently (largely due to the simple problems of
>         bandwidth and CPU usage). This need for continuity is
>         interesting in the
>         context of "slide" transitions, and the smooth 3D transition in
>         keynote
>         that shows each slide as a facet of a cube. Why this need for
>         smoothness
>         and continuity?
>         Film is still highly dependent on cuts, rather than smooth
>         transitions.
>         So in some way, we return to this question of the poetics of a
>         media. We
>         don't expect this continuity in all aspects of computing, a new
>         browser
>         tab is a cut, not a fade out. Opening a new application often
>         involves a
>         cut to a splash screen.
>         I think the need for continuity is related to the need to be
>         transparent, to hide the ugly interior reality in favour of the
>         illusion
>         of the perfect integration of all media.
>         I use the open-source "libreoffice" productivity suite, which
>         started as
>         a clone of Microsoft Office for Sun/Solaris users. It's a
>         strange thing,
>         seemingly oriented to the office needs of an engineer. The drawing
>         program allows dimension lines and scale drawings to me made. The
>         presentation program includes the most cheesy of the early NLE video
>         editors and I tend to stick with a cut. I have had issues slowly and
>         choppy video playback within the presentation. Considering all the
>         codecs and video formats out there, this is no surprise. Making
>         anything
>         play video is actually a significant challenge, particular in a
>         cross
>         platform way. What I do is switch away from the presentation
>         application
>         to the OS, and play the video manually (using a program that
>         only exists
>         to play video, and does to very very well - mplayer). Being a Linux
>         user, what I actually do is switch to a command-line interface (with
>         alt-tab) and then [up arrow] to scroll through commands I set-up
>         before
>         the presentation to play the various videos, and press [enter].
>         I only
>         present in mirror mode, and thus the audience sees the terminal
>         for a
>         flash before the video plays.
>         I think of my choice of technology (in this case of presentation
>         running
>         Linux on an old tiny netbook) is an aspect of my identity. While
>         having
>         the videos embedded in my presentations would be convenient (if they
>         played back smoothy), it would hide this aspect of my identity,
>         and be
>         less flexible. I think there is some irony in the so often opaque
>         struggle of a person trying to get their machine to 'talk' to the
>         projector, and then continue on with a perfectly transparent and
>         highly
>         produced presentation. I pride myself on the single line of code it
>         takes to make my eee pc generate a VGA signal flawlessly, but
>         opaquely,
>         and the smoothness with which I cut back and forth between a
>         series of
>         slides and videos started on the command-line. This is
>         comfortable and
>         flexible because of practise, because I've used this machine and
>         this OS
>         for presentations over the last 6 years. I use the same command to
>         generate video; I use the same comment to play a video. To me, it's
>         stable and predictable, just not transparent or highly cohesive.
>         What are the implications of us all using power-point to make
>         similar
>         looking slides with similar templates on similar hardware to
>         present our
>         individual contributions? Why choose the illusion of
>         transparency and
>         perfect continuity?
>         Ben
>         On 15-02-16 03:30 PM, Renate Terese Ferro wrote:
>         > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>         >
>         > Ben sometimes threads on -empyre run parallel to one another. 
>         You and
>         > Murat have had some pretty pointed and specific discussions in
>         regards to
>         > your technical work and how it translates but as Anne Balsamo
>         writes this
>         > post I think about our early discussion just last week and am
>         wondering if
>         > you might have any ideas for Anne. I am reposting this one
>         segment here
>         > from her last post especially given your theoretical thinking
>         about fluid
>         > identities.  Want to take a try at this one.  Any I ideas at all?
>         >
>         > Anne Balsamo wrote:
>         > "Right now we are in the process of modifying the FTN Commons to
>         > accommodate our distributed pedagogies and collaborative work
>         modes.  One
>         > of the things we seek is a platform that allows for shared
>         moderation
>         > (among several participants), and increased flexibility in
>         > user-typess.where ³instructors² and ³students² are more fluid
>         identities
>         > rather than fixed for the individual or the term of use.  This
>         last point
>         > is the one that has the developers most perplexed. 
>         Accommodating fluid
>         > identities within a given project space is non-trivial."
>         >
>         > Thanks Ben for the incredibly thoughtful and provocative
>         posts.  Renate
>         >
>         >
>         >>
>         >
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