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. 

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“The Old New World” – an example of Necro- Media

 

Necro-media is the re-purposing of older forms of Mass Media & Mass Media content as content of new forms of media. In this case, photographer and animator Alexey Zakharov of Moscow, Russia, has created a superb animated short using camera projection.  The content was a series of photographs of American cities taken between 1900 and 1940. They were sourced from the website Shorpy.  

Besides bringing the photographs to life in a steampunk/Gernsback  vision, the short makes use of the aesthetic of aged damaged motion picture film and the codes and conventions of early motion picture establishing shots. The audio track is of Al Bowlly singing, Guilty, a song composed (published in 1931) by Richard Whiting, Harry Akst and Gus Kahn.

 

 

Typography from Paper to Cinema

 

FROM PAPER TO SCREEN is a short animation by Thibault de Fournas. That first component  explores the development of typography on paper ( the basic rules) and then is followed by a presentation of the evolution of the use of typography in cinema.

Using  sound and animated text & imagery, the whole piece effectively becomes  visual kinetic poetry .

The pieces of Music used were:
Clair de Lune – Debussy
Shoot the Piano Player: Poursuite  a composition by
Georges Delerue is performed by – Hugh Wolff & London Sinfonietta .

 

21th Century Machine - Mystery Map List  Caslon, William, Roman typefaces (specimen).

Poppy Shadow Heart – Film Noir

Poppy Shadow Heart

 

Poppy in Black

To go along with my B&W poppy compositions, I decided to include the   official video of Caro Emerald’s song, “I Belong to You”.  The video’s style and the song exhibits the mix of 1940s cinema’s lush romanticism with the subtle suggestion of the film noir’s figure of the femme fatale.

The Shocking Miss Emerald 2

The opening ( establishing shot) is a wide-angle long shot in B&W of the mansion, with the only signs of activity a flock of bird rising up into the air, as if startled by a menace. The camera slowly, in time to the music, moves in before sharply cutting to an interior shot of a darkened staircase camera low angle moving upward towards the lighted landing above.

I Belong to You - establishing shot

Another sharp cut takes us into a upper room, the camera at eye level and approaching the windows. All the camera motion follows the pace of music and the the sharp cuts  matching the tango beat. The setting and cinematography tropes allude to such classic films as Murder My Sweet (1944) , Double Indemnity (1944) , and The Big Sleep (1939).

 

In Caro’s video, the young man with “the retro-contemporary-needs-a-shave” should look a bit more worn and world weary – instead of a youthful hipster trying to look worldly and mysterious. Considering the target audience, it still works, if not perfectly.

The Shocking Miss Emerald 3

Caro’s own role plays out some of the ambiguity of the femme fatale character. In classic style she starts as an isolated woman in an otherwise empty mansion awaiting the arrival of the man. The use of cuts of Caro preparing for the role in muted colours plays on the femme fatale as woman playing out a role and set of social expectations; expectations and a role the femme fatale attempts to use to her advantage, so it is no longer a trap controlled by a society of dominant men. 

The Shocking Miss Emerald 4t

  The scene of the couple sitting  having some tea (?) with  fancy cups suggests the beginning of the relationship – the young man appears shy/distant/uncertain, while Caro almost appears almost demure, but the accompanying lyrics seem to propel relationship much further in time & intensity.

We overlooked
as ocean deep
But now this river that we’re swimming through
is promises we keep ,,,,,,,,

 From here the video transitions with cuts to colour and back to B&W.  This parallels a transition to a change in setting, a musical performance at a concert/club. We see the young man now alone watching the departing Caro. It shifts to the club setting on stage as Caro comes out and continues singing. The young man is now in the audience; introducing the cinema trope of the nightclub singer ( creative feminine-spirit trapped in a male controlled reality ).

I Belong to You

This  movement of both characters to the new setting generates an interesting meta-textual element. The young man now represents the audience. The relationship in the song & the video now becomes a metaphor for the singer’s relationship to her audience. Whether intentional or not, it re-enforces the nightclub singer persona that was part of 40s cinema’s constructed reality.

 

(Bridge)
The afterglow that’s down below
Is when I see your smile
And in your eyes, true love assigns
Forever is a word that cries

(Chorus)
That I belong to you
That endless nights of far away
Are gone, and you
Could never love another
And I love you too
I see up above

And now I feel the truth
I belong to you.

Note the degree to which there was an attempt to extend this tone to the CD packaging. The purchaser has entered a world by acquiring a physical  artifact. This is more than a digital download or a virtual experience. It is a world of physical substance that is part of a  very sophisticated and elaborate constructed reality that will appeal to an audience that wants more than just the music.

I Belong to You 2

 

 

The CD case together with the accompanying book re-creates a personal diary & photo album of a young woman from the late 1930s-early 40s.

I Belong to You 3 TpBrdCaro Emerald plays out the role visually through photographs and short entries linking the songs to events in this fictional world, thereby extending the immersive experience of listening to the vocals performances. To complete the effect the CD is designed to resemble a record from the time period.

The Shocking Miss EmeraldIn closing, may I just say, Miss. Caro Emerald, if you see this, hope you enjoy the poppies and thanks to my wife, the copy of your CD is mine. 

 

Note : The official video for Caro Emerald’s song “That Man” uses the tropes 1960s cinema opening animated title sequences.  For a short analysis see – Implied Spaces: Running Between the Line

 

For more of my poppy images see – After the Petals – Antique Impressions