Monday, November 23, 2015

Post, the ninth -- je ne sais quoi

still from je ne sais quoi 

my final project for new media in art is a video called je ne sais quoi - translation: i don't know what.

it's about beauty.

it's about the beauty of human beings (all humus an beings, think Marshall McLuhan's "global village"); beauty that has nothing to do with the common standards but beauty that comes from the subtle little things that we all do; a nervous glance, a conversation about a passion, a smile, a stare.

in times like these, times when 129 people can be killed overnight for no apparent reason, it can be difficult to believe in or even remember the beauty in the world.

when i heard about the attacks in Paris, i really wanted to change my project, to make something that "mattered".

it wasn't until i finally calmed down a little and thought about it, though, that i realized that this project does matter.

it's so easy to feel hate and fear and despair when tragedy strikes, and that's exactly what they want you to feel.

this video is in loving memory of the 129 souls taken from us in Paris on the evening of the 13th of November, 2015, those taken before that, and those that will be taken in the future.

a lot of my Wednesday nights in Paris were spent at a Scottish pub called the Highlander, listening to strangers sing at open mic night.

the audio is from one of those nights.

a youngish man from Ireland was performing for his last time before going home after 2 years in Paris and his performance really struck me.

he was tall and lanky with an air of someone who doesn't quite know how to keep their limbs in line, but when he stood behind his guitar and the microphone, you knew he was supposed to be there; he is meant to make music.

i wanted to give to you this little piece of Paris, one of my favorite times.

my hope is that if you see this video, you will concentrate your energy on the beauty of the world; that you'll realize that even if you didn't know anyone who was killed, you shared things with them; that they were beautiful and that you're beautiful and that this beauty can and will get us through.

here's a link to je ne sais quoi.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Post, the eight -- Something happened

last week, my class got to exhibit our work in a gallery in our school's library.

we each printed 2, 11x14 inkjet prints and made/ordered a book of the images from our photo project inspired by Robert Frank and Bob Dylan.

it was fun to see everyone's work together and i think that books are a really effective way to display images and i hope that one day, my name will appear next to the likes of Robert Frank, Jack Kerouac and Walker Evans on more bookshelves than just my own.

my book, Appleton, WI.  In Living Color

our show was pretty successful, but now it's over and honestly, i'll probably never think about it again.

something else happened last week, though, that i can't stop thinking about.

i was informed of the attacks in Paris simultaneously by two people on friday night.

i turned on a live feed of what was happening on the streets and i cried; for hours.

i texted my host family, messaged my friends in Paris and talked to my friends that i spent last year with.

when 9/11 happened, i was only 7, i'd lived in Wisconsin my whole life and my family didn't know anyone in New York, so this is the first time that a disaster has had such a strong and disabling effect on me.

written and drawn reactions to the events of 13/11/15

since last friday, the 13th of november, i've felt like i've been in a daze or a haze or a stupor.

when i hear people talk about the attacks or see the news or photos, my head gets fuzzy and foggy and i shut down a little.

we talked in class today about The Medium is the Massage.

on page 154 it says "i -- i hardly know, sir, just at present -- at least i know who i was when i got up this morning, but i think i must have been changed several times since then."

i changed on friday when i learned about the attacks.

i changed on saturday as more and more details were coming out.

i changed on sunday when i realized that my friend and i had gone to a party at the Bataclan club.

i changed this morning at the start of class when i learned that one of my friend's friends had been killed in the attack; that's probably the case with more of my friends that just this one.

i guess i just don't really know what to do other than write this.

my friends are probably tired of me talking about it and it's probably difficult for them to understand where i'm coming from; it just doesn't feel the same if it didn't happen in a place you fell in love with, to people you admire and care for.

"love is stronger than hatred"

at the Place de la République, you can see this and other expressions from French people put there after the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in January, the deadliest terror attack on French soil before last week.

these people are brave and strong and i know that they will make it through this, i just wish they didn't have to.

LOVE, please

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Post, the seventh -- Lucy and Marshall in the Sky with Diamonds

this week, i presented a report on The Beatles and why Marshall McLuhan included them in his book The Medium is the Massage.

it turns out, The Beatles were pretty experimental in their day.

The Beatles courtesy Google image search

McLuhan mentions The Beatles three times in his book and said of them on a separate occasion, “The Beatles are…using some of the very oldest forms of Anglo-Saxon, and some of the very oldest forms of philosophy as a basis for their music.  One of the peculiarities of new forms, electric forms, of retrieval is that they reach back for many centuries to grab things that man had forgotten long ago”.

much of The Beatles success comes from the fact that they were around during the electric age.

for example, their American debut was made on the Ed Sullivan Show where they were introduced to some 70 million people overnight. 

they took advantage of this and other things like the magnetic tape recorder.

The Beatles liked trying new things and when they realized that their new work didn't translate on a live stage, decided to spend the rest of their time in the recording studio.

George Harrison explains, “that was the key—we’d had success.  Then it was “ oh, great.  Come in lads”  and as we got more and more success, we were able to try some far out ideas.  Then you’d have success with a far out idea, and people would say “wow, that’s great”!  We’d come back again and George Martin would be keen to try other ideas.  So, it became like a free house—whatever idea we wanted, we’d try it.”
even though they're pretty mainstream today and it's probably "cooler" not to like The Beatles now than to like them, they really did their own thing.

i think that's probably a big reason why they were so successful.

they were unapologetically themselves. 

The Beatles courtesy Google image search

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