Steppin’ Out of Reality

steppin-out

bowler-up

 

The 7th Principle of Mass Media Scans is, A new mass media technology will initially borrow the content and imitate the conventions of the mass medium that is currently dominant in a society. As the technology advances, the new medium will consume the older medium, turning it into content.  This  principle and the media text produced in this manner is what is called Necro-Media. This post features some examples of Necro-Media. 

While exploring posts from fellow photography bloggers, I came across some tagged as Polamatic. The Polamatic app enables you to convert your phone shots into a retro aesthetic that turns the shot into a composition that has the features and qualities of an old Polaroid picture.  I have some experience producing the Polaroid look, and PaintShop Pro imaging software includes a simple Polaroid frame effect which allows for the creation of Polaroid Transfer effects.  As a challenge and an experiment, I used two shots I had taken at the local bowling alley, when my daughter was participating in the weekly Special Olympics bowling night.  I tried to emulate as closely as possible the frame & look produced by a Polamatic app.  It took a bit of time to create & modify the frames, and the viewer can judge for themselves these first attempts. 

Let’s now consider how this all fits in with the concept of Necro-Media.  To begin with, the app itself is such an example. The app allows the user to take digital photographs with their phone and turn them into digital representations of old Polaroid pictures. The Mass Media technology allows the user to imitate the codes and conventions of an earlier medium, Polaroid Photography.  What I attempted in my experiment was to use other software to imitate the app.  In one sense I was just doing the same thing as the app, so that is an example of the same type of Necro-Media.  In another way, I was applying the principle to the app itself, by trying to emulate the Polamatic app’s features, including the use of dirt/scratches/folds and colourful text font.  The final compositions are Necro-Media of Necro-Media. 

The Steppin’ Out title for the first composition, brought to mind the classic jazz/swing standard, Steppin’ Out With My Baby, composed by Irving Berlin in 1948 and first performed by Fred Astaire in the movie, Easter Parade.  I selected the 1993 video of Tony Bennet ‘s rendition  of the song.

The music video was very successful at the time of its release. Helping to bring Bennett to the attention of a much younger generation, it established him as an elder statesman of a passing generation of entertainers.  It formed a bridge bridge between very different times. We can see this video composition as both a homage to the past, and as an example of Necro-Media. 

The first obvious  component is the use of B&W to emulate the old classic Fred & Ginger  movie musicals of the 1930s.  The choice of wardrobe combines the Fred & Ginger style with elements of the contemporary look of when the video was released.  The choice of camera angles, distances and staging also plays homage to the past. The mix of the older tap dancer ( could not find his name ) and the younger contemporary black dancers widens the target audience, while acknowledging the past and visually reflecting how much has changed in both the American entertainment industry & society. 

As the technology advances, the new medium will consume the older medium, turning it into content. This is both figuratively and literally true in this video. Besides all the aesthetic imitation and use of codes and conventions, take note of what is included in the limited number of props.  Included were, the early phonograph with the horn amplifier, the large records, the microphones included both 1930s nightclub that Bennett walks up to begin singing and a close-up of a radio studio microphone.  The later goes with the old radio being tuned .  The other technological prop was the fan typical of the early movies as a symbol of emotional heat and cool music.  

Mass Media technology and the forms of media  it generates are constantly changing and adapting. New art forms are created and old one respond to the impact, some adapt while others disappear, still others become specialty forms of art and communication.  The recent changes in the WordPress Reader demonstrate this, but that is for another post.  So now I will conclude & post this analysis; let’s  see  how it looks on the Reader. 

Un tango à Paris and The Goat: Constructing a Reality

 Un tango à Paris — Maria Filali & Özgür Karahan

 

Mass Media constructs realities based on specific sets of codes and conventions determined by the nature of each Medium. The constructed reality of cinema derives from photography. Photography makes use of line, perspective, framing, light & shadow, camera angle and distance and in choice of monochrome or colour. Cinematography add motion, both the subject’s and that of camera’s. The nature of illusion of sequential motion that is created through film allows for editing of shots.

 

 

The Goat (1921) , a Buster Keaton two reeler ( A short silent film, of around twenty minutes running time. ),  plays with the construction of reality in multiple ways to create mistaken identity and confusion. Buster’s character is mistaken for the criminal because of a wrongly posted photograph. Mannequins are mistaken for people and a real Indian is mistaken for a cigar shop statue. Cuts and point of view alter the reality in this early Keaton classic.

The Goat 1921 - Buster Keaton

In Un tango à Paris, reality bends with colour and monochrome slipping  into a tango dance. Director Thomas Baspeyras,   admirably makes use of fades, perspectives, camera distance and angles to portray the transformation in time & place as the couple dances. With only two  GH3s cameras and assistant Marie Astier , he found editing the reality of the dancing challenging. Tangos are often improvised and lack of a specific choreographed  piece and this challenged creating a sense of continuity when editing.

 

 

Dancers (Links) : Maria Filali  and Özgür Karahan

 

 

Malak and the Boat: UNICEF’s Animated ‘Unfairy Tales’ Begin

Malak Title

 

UNICEF  launched a new animated series  meant to bring attention to the youngest victims of the Syrian refugee crisis, Unfairy Tales. Created by ad agency 180LA, the videos chronicle real children’s journeys from Syria by juxtaposing stunning animation with terrifying narrations of the terrible events wrought by this globally impactful humanitarian disaster. The first story, Malak and the Boat, tells seven-year-old Malak’s harrowing story of his journey across the Mediterranean seeking shelter from the Syrian conflict. Visual design company House of Colors built a custom animation algorithm for the film that gives the waves a stylized, almost autonomous behaviour as if the sea were a sentient thing.

 

 

 

 

While intended to contrast the contemporary mass media  view of fairy tales with the harsh reality of the refugee children, it actually reveals the core of fairy tales and folklore.  The power of fairy tales to convey the harsh reality through metaphor and archetype is clearly evident in this work of animation.  Childhood can be fraught with perils, both imagined and very real. Through the fairy tale these perils and the human spirit of resilience can be effectively portrayed and modelled. The real outcomes & collateral damage, rather than the Disney/Victorian happy ever afterwards, can be presented, that those with power & voice can strive to create a positive outcome for those caught up in a wave of societal conflict & extreme upheaval.

Detectives Who, How & Why

Sherlock & Poirot

 

 

I responded to Calmgrove’s post, “Locked Room Cozy is a Page-turner” , making an observation on the nature of the whodunnit. This is pure speculation, but if we keep in mind that all forms of Mass Media contain values, beliefs and ideologies,  one can see how male biasesand values could shape the characteristics of mystery stories and the development of the literary detective.  I suspect that the whodunnit almost falls into male and female categories. Obviously readers and writers of both genders can move from the one type to the other. However the evolution of the genre appears to have evolved out of a societal-cultural role pattern and expectations. Early detectives, tended  to rely on the male preference for a mechanistic approach to solving the mystery. Their knowledge and observational skills concentrated on the how of the mystery.  In effect, the whodunnit is very often a process of discovering how it was done in order to catch the perpetrator of the crime.

Lady Detectives 3twq

 The early Lady Detectives  were written in the model of the male detectives, using their skills and knowledge in the same manner as their male counterparts.  Their advantage was in how society under estimated them and in their observation of things, most men would have considered inconsequential, the emphasis was on the how in order to arrive at the who.

In 1938, Zelda Popkin introduced Mary Carner, considered the first modern female detective

Male whodunnit – How-dunnit discovers the mechanics of the mystery.

 

Female whodunnit – Why-dunnit leads to the mechanics of the mystery.

 

 

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple demonstrates a shift as observations about human behaviour  places more significance on emotions and motivations. The one detective figures out how it was done to discover who did it. The other detective investigates motive, the why, which leads to who. The who then helps provides the means of unravelling the method . Both detectives are essentially puzzle solvers who approach the puzzle from different sides.

 

The Hard Boiled detective follows a convoluted emotional path full of ethical grey areas. Lots of physical encounters, where action & threat are a metaphor for the detective’s emotional vulnerability. The solitary male detective follows a physical trail to the emotional heart of the mystery. The puzzle/mystery is cracked open (to crack the case); the detective seeks emotional whys in a hands on manner. The mystery always involves the eternal mystery of the dangerous/unattainable woman, Femme Fatale.

 

 

Black Mask - The Maltese Falcon

 

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1949-07,BlkMsk

 

 

In the Noir world of the Hard Boiled Detective, women could be obstacles, goals,  and antagonists. Even so, the Lady Detective could play out the role of protagonist, as long as she followed the masculine path of the knight errant down the mean streets.

DLmontage