Monthly Archives: April 2013

Comparitive Essay

Jomack Miranda

4/29/13

Imagining the Modern World

Comparative Essay, Option 1

Word Count (699)

 

Somebody’s Watching: The Motif of Looking

            It is common knowledge that in the presence of people, humans tend to manipulate themselves to appear acceptable. Through glass, a voyeur exposes the secrecy of a man’s gaze in image A while in image B, the onlooker is prompted by sex to buy a Nikon camera. While different artistically, both pictures exhibit the motif of the act of looking, highlighting how the presence of a voyeur manipulates human action.

            Inside an art store, the photographer captures a couple through a window, dividing the image into inside and outside scenes. The inside scene holds something that both characters desire. The man is surreptitiously fixed on the painting of woman, seemingly a courtesan, while his wife is describing an artwork that the audience cannot see. The man is holding his wife’s arm so she does not notice that he is ignoring her. Outside the window, life is asexual. For example, the wife is conservatively dressed; she is wearing a thick woolen coat, complete with hat and gloves. The courtesan, however, is completely naked. The man’s gaze is a manifestation of a desired fantasy. Moreover, the vintage nature of the photograph, exemplified by its black and white filter, establishes the man’s gaze as inappropriate. The painting’s taboo nature is further exemplified by its flowery and intricately designed outer frame, which clashes with the static nature of the rest of the picture. Also, the frame of this artwork serves as another window of perspective. The man is a voyeur to an artificial sex scene. The audience thus sees the man living in a world of order and conservatism, but embarrassingly escaping to a world of sexual fantasy via the painting of the naked woman.

            The Nikon advertisement (image B) engages its audience in voyeurism in order to sell its product. It contains three viewpoints of observation: a view from the outside looking through the window, a view from the camera’s viewfinder and the photographer’s view behind the camera. The first two viewpoints stand in contrast. Like image A, life outside the window appears uninteresting. Yet, while both pictures do this, the inside and outside realities in image B seem to interact more. The people on the outside, marked by square boxes around their faces, are willing voyeurs to the possible pornographic circumstance within the apartment. The women on the bed, who are highly sexualized, pose for the camera and the people beyond the window. The colors of the bed sheets and the women’s underwear both have reddish-orange tints. Redness, a sexual color, guides the audience’s eye around the picture. The advertisement does not cut off at the borders of the camera; one can see the fingers of the photographer as well as a blurred outline of the rest of the room. This tertiary medium of perception highlights the superficiality or staged nature of the picture.

            Both pieces explore a voyeur’s perspective, yet because they are from different time periods, the two photographs have different consequences. In each picture there exists a different level of conservatism. In the candid black and white photo, the man should be paying attention to his wife but rather fixates on a painted naked woman. The Nikon advertisement, however, uses that which is inappropriate in image A to sell its camera. In the advertisement, the whole picture is engaged with itself, the voyeurs are fixed on the women and the women on the camera. Because the women are looking through the camera at the audience, one can see how sex has become a more open topic of discussion.  

            Through an exploration of voyeurism, one finds how each photograph depicts a unique level of acceptance of sex. Today’s vision of sex, as exemplified by image B, is not as rigid as it was, perhaps in the time period that image A was taken, yet both present a sense of discomfort. A difference between both shots is that image A depicts a man acting covertly without knowledge of a camera watching him while in image B, the action within the picture is constructed for the camera. Despite this difference, the two comment on the realities of humanity and how the idea of society watching manipulates human performance.

hw for 4/24

1) BRIEFLY – according to Hussain why should we not value freedom of speech vis-à-vis (in relation to) the Danish cartoons?

Hussain states that we should not value freedom of speech in relation to the Danish cartoons because they are obviously discriminatory and have not place in media.

2) In one or two paragraphs, compare one of the cartoons to the image of the falling WTC victim.  In your succinct comparison take into account that these are controversial images.

            The first thing that catches my eye about the difference between these two photographs is the presence of text in each. The wtc victim one has no text, forcing the audience to focus on the man falling to his death. It makes the picture that much more painful to look at. The Danish cartoon, on the other hand, uses text to label the man in the picture and to identify the author. I do not know what the text in the upper right corner means. Another point of comparison is on the basis of medium. The wtc victim picture is a candid photo and the cartoon is well—a cartoon, complete with grainy colors and degrading stereotypes of what the prophet Muhammad must have looked like. This difference in nature, the candid versus the cartoon, serves each photo with a different purpose. The wtc photo captured a horrific event that will never be forgotten. The cartoon ridicules and offends a religious prophet.

 photo links: 

 

hw for 4/22

blog: 1) Briefly note the aesthetics of the Dan and Terry video – how would you describe the men, setting, overall aesthetic in a sentence or two?

The setting is very intimate, but yet raw at the same time. The way they are able to speak to the camera adds humanity to their stories in which a lot of people in this country and around the world are disconnected.

2) Do you think Muller’s critique of the video is effective, why/why not (provide SPECIFIC EVIDENCE to support your point)?

I do think Muller’s critique of the online “It Gets Better” video is valid because while it can offer critical advice to people in need, it is still within the larger social construct. Such a construct upholds pervasive homophobia. Muller states, “The virtual community of the It Gets Better project cannot be viewed as an autonomous safe haven, untouchable by the violent aspects of the ‘real’ world, because virtual and physical realities are forever impacting each other” (Muller 273). The Internet is simply an extension of the people who use it, the same people who are active in the real world.

3) How does Gotto think YouTube differs from other modes of filmic representation?

Gotto thinks that because YouTube creates what he calls a “public sphere”, it is extremely personalized. Furthermore, YouTube offers a great range of documentaries from people all over the world. The project “Life in a Day” is great example of how to bridge peoples’ stories together and create a community of online video material.

 

 

Hw for 4/17

The Manovitch article states that professional entertainment and other forms of commercial media “colonize” the identities of people by crafting templates, such as Facebook and MySpace, which enable the display of personal information. Hilderbrand, however, states that while web 2.0 introduced sites like Youtube, which democratizes media, it opens up the possibility for more copyright protection. Based on these two stances, I think Hilderbrand is more optimistic; his article spends a lot of time discussing the pros of YouTube’s accessibility and the wealth of content that it displays.

 

To address the second question: Facebook is a great example of how a tactic and a strategy can appear the same. For example, Facebook attempts to give its audience a place to display information about them to the world (if they so choose). However, not only does the strategy attract Internet users to the site, it allows them to customize the information they display. The user can choose what pictures to post, messages to leave on peoples wall. Thus, the online identification can be similar or differ from the physical person. It’s entirely up to the person using Facebook. 

Hw For 4/15

Tufte talks a lot about how PowerPoint is presenter oriented and works to sometimes distance its audience from the material. He explains further that PowerPoint presentations can “replace serious analysis with chart junk, over-produced layouts, cheerleader logotypes and branding, and corny clip art” (Tufte 4). Finally, Tufte argues that bullet lists are too difficult to read, sometimes resembling complex computer code in the way it is presented. Essentially, Tufte states that PowerPoint can really make any presentation easy to fail.

 

According to Bumiller, PowerPoint can create the illusion of knowledge and expertise in a certain subject. The program “stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making” (Bumiller). Bumiller actually doesn’t have anything positive to say about the program. Despite this, I do think there some positive characteristics of power point. I think PPT is used extremely well when the points being put up on screen are simplistic. The point of a slide is to guide the audience to an understanding, to give them the abstract ideas. Also, the fact that you can use pictures makes it an effective tool for business and educational settings. 

Analyzing Film Paper

Jomack Miranda

4/12/13

Prof. Huaser

Analyzing Film Paper

            (Word count: 683)

 

The Human Reach

     It is a human characteristic to desire. Humans are obsessed with bettering their circumstances, whether it is within an occupation or within recreational circumstances. In the short film Reach, a robot, which reflects many human qualities, illustrates the human yearning for betterment within a much smaller world. The robot unsuccessfully journeys to freedom, destroying itself in the process and manifesting how humans tend to disregard important aspects of their lives for the pursuit of a goal. The robot’s journey (from learning how to walk in the beginning and then failing to reach the window at the end) parallels the existence of a person who is blinded by the attainment of a goal (i.e. reaching the window). Reach employs a humanized robot in order to draw attention to the over-ambitious, or self-destructive, nature of human beings.

     The stack of books and the screws depict how blind humans can be to the repercussions of being over-ambitious. In the beginning of the film, the robot first spots the screws, running to them and ignoring the books (1:58). The screws signify the means of production, a metaphor for the tools one needs to succeed. Yet, the way the robot childishly handles the screws (exemplified by how the robot throws them up in the air in celebration [2:01]) suggests that humans rush to be successful without truly understanding how to carry out their plan. There is a certain naivety in rushing to complete a goal and not taking the time to meticulously organize one’s way to success. Essentially, by ignoring the books, which represent education or the ability to act wisely, the robot sets itself up for failure.

     The screws end up inhibiting the robot’s success; furthering the argument that acting blindly in pursuit of a goal can only be detrimental. Mesmerized by the bird and the freedom that exists beyond the window, the robot goes through a trial and error process to get out of the room. It pulls the cord that connects it to the power source until the power source lodges on a screw (2:43). The robot never even looks back at the screw let alone contemplates whether it should try to remove it. This inability to think during the pursuit of the goal is detrimental, eventually killing the robot. Essentially, Reach shows that without reflection humans will hurdle themselves toward their goal without regard for their lives in a robotic and mindless fashion.  

     The film’s final mise-en-scène (3:31) shows the robot under the window, the books and an errant screw from left to right. The close but significant physical distances between these three objects express how humans do not always see the tools, the knowledge, the goal, as interconnected. This is not to say that humans do not value education as a means of achieving success, but it is natural to be enticed by instant gratification. Essentially, this final scene illustrates how being consumed by immediate success leads to demise. The window above the robot shows how the goal is literally out of the robot’s reach. The untouched books represent ignorance of the value of a slower, more gradual process to success. Lastly, the lone screw, which is small and almost insignificant in appearance, represents the stupidity of not considering the use of certain tools that could aid in achieving the goal. 

     Reach uses a human-like robot to underline the over-aspiring, or self-damaging, tendencies of humanity. The Victorian wallpaper existing in the background of the main mise-en-scène antiquates the room, suggesting that humanity’s over-ambitious nature should be abandoned. Reach mainly communicates the need to substantiate one’s journey to success with knowledge and wisdom. If the robot had stopped to think about its circumstance, it probably would have waited to be charged and then detach itself from the cord in order to travel a further distance. Its urgency to reach the goal, however, prevailed, leading to its death. Much like transitory battery life that made the robot doomed to fail the window from the beginning, a human only lives so long. Reach thus ultimately comments on the fleeting nature of humanity and how goals are rendered meaningless by death.