Friday, 17 June 2011

Final Major Artwork

Just finished the final assignment for this class earlier today. I'm not as happy with it as I would like... turns out putting together a story with pages that link like a spider's web is not easy, even after extensive planning. I spent so much time mapping out how everything would connect, but I don't feel like it translated very well into the actual project. There are a couple of pages that I really like, but overall it just didn't turn out the way I wanted.

And now for a summary of my experience in this course: wow, did I ever learn a lot. It took me back to a few years ago when I first had a class centred around Illustrator and Photoshop. Luckily, most of the tools are fairly similar, and I already know how to create layers and so on. The thing that gets me with Flash is that it's very finicky. If one little bit of it is wrong, then it can cause major issues with the entire project. I really enjoyed the assignments in the class though, especially the portfolio. I also enjoyed learning about the Internet in the way that we did. It made me start questioning things that I took for granted before, and maybe should've been paying more attention to from the start, such as copyrights and user-created content and that sort of thing. I liked getting to see a variety of artists and art forms as well. It was generally a very eye-opening class.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


I know that this is a little behind, but I figured I'd do a blog entry on my online portfolio assignment.

I really enjoyed this assignment. I was really happy with my final website, and it's definitely something that I might use in the future... once I get myself a domain name and all that. I tried to make it look professional by keeping the overall layout the same, with a greyscale background and medium blue as a spot colour. I tied the look of each page together by having the title and a black and white photo of myself sliding in from either side when a new page opens. the pages included samples of my photography, digital design, writing, and even a small Flash sample... oh the sheep. One of my first Flash productions.

There were a few things that I would've changed if I'd had more time, or was a little more skilled. For example, putting "easing" on the photos when they slid in. I tried to figure it out and it didn't seem to do anything, so I guess I didn't quite understand which buttons to select in the tool bar. Also, the back and forward buttons in my image galleries were just pictures of me, so I should've added in something to make it more visually obvious that they were the buttons.

Before I use this portfolio assignment as an actual website, I would definitely add more samples of my creative work. I'd probably add in a few videos. I just finished making a music video for another class, and I'm pretty proud of how it turned out, so I'd like to showcase that.

Reading a photograph.

This blog entry is supposed to be about 
Geoffrey Batchen's statement “photographs are pictorial transformations of a three-dimensional world, pictures that depend for their legibility on a historically specific set of visual conventions” (2009: 210). Reading that, I mostly just get confused. To tell the truth, my brain stops paying attention by the time I reach "pictorial transformations."

The best I can determine what Batchen is getting at, especially in context of viewing a photograph versus viewing digital imagery, is that photographs bring with them the illusion of truth and fact. When you see a photo, you assume that what it shows is real; an honest capturing of the "three-dimensional world." On the other hand, digital imagery is much easier to be skeptical about. Surrealist art is the perfect example. Although we can (usually) comprehend the world and subject matter of the image, our minds automatically tell us that it has been fabricated. With photographs, we have to tell our minds when something is fabricated, such as fashion photos. 

As with anything, there is a grey area. Hoaxes, for example, as is demonstrated by the debates and controversies over such photos as the Sasquatch or Loch Ness Monster. Things like these are the reason that photographs can't always be trusted to depict reality. At the same time, it's possible that they do, and the only people who will really know the truth are the ones who took or made the picture.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Inappropriate or simply appropriated?

When it comes to appropriation, there's a fine line between "imitation is flattery" and plain old plagiarism. In class, we talked about examples such as Hugh Jackman doing Christopher Walken's dance in the Lipton commercial, and Honda's use of a Rube Goldberg style chain reaction in their commercial "The Cog."

Another example that I found is that of Bundaberg Red. This commercial is sitting on that fine line, copying a very famous scene from the Clint Eastwood classic The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Everything about this commercial mirrors the movie: the setting, the music, even the type of shots and camera angles, such as the close up shots of the characters' eyes and hands. It's difficult to say whether something like this is crossing the line into a dangerous copyright area, but personally, I think it works really well. It's something that a large portion of the viewing population would easily recognize, but clearly makes it its own with the use of the Bundy Bear and cans instead of guns. It's also making fun of itself by having a shot of the band playing the western music and looking very Mexican.

Verdict: I think the commercial has used appropriation appropriately.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


I've been a follower and fan of the PostSecret project for years. I think each postcard is a work of art, and the overall idea of bringing people together over shared secrets is really impressive. Reading through and finding a secret that you yourself were too embarrassed to share is really eye-opening. You're not the only one out there who has something to hide, or who's scared, or who's sad, or happy, or whatever.

Anyone can send in a postcard. With the anonymity of it all, it's a safe way to confess your sins, or share your joys. However, Frank Warren, the creator of the project, has taken it ever further than that. He has created a community of people who, while they might be strangers, still respect and trust each other enough to share their deepest fears, desires, and shames. Frank tours the USA with PostSecret lectures, giving people the chance to share their secrets out loud with the rest of the PostSecret community. It absolutely blows my mind that these complete strangers can stand up and admit their secrets to the world. I think Frank has done an unbelievable job of bringing people together and making it okay to share the things you don't want anyone to know about you.

The only thing I would improve on with this project is the lecture tours. As of yet, they only travel around the United States. Postcards can be sent from all over the world, but it would be amazing if these same people could stand up and voice their secrets and be able to share with the same level of trust and respect that is being spread throughout America.

User-created Content

Personally, I am a member of a number of user-created content websites and social networks: YouTube, Blogger (obviously), deviantART, Facebook, and LinkedIn. When it comes to being actively involved in these online communities, I'll admit, I'm not as much of a joiner as I could be. With the exception of Facebook and YouTube (and sometimes deviantART), I mostly just post my own stuff, paying little heed to the content that others choose to share.

However, as stated in User-Created Content and Online Social Networks, "for those who are engaging in user-created content on the web, their participation is not necessarily understood in terms of exceptional 'creativity' or 'producing' cultural texts, but in terms of using the co-creation of media to interact and engage with each other and with the world" (Burgess & Banks, 2010, pp.299). This may sound super intellectual, but what it boils down to is essentially this: even if people are not creating and posting their own original content, they are still taking part in a world or community that shares their interests. People of my generation often find it easier to open up online and share information about their personal lives or join in discussions that they probably wouldn't share or join in their physical life. Although sites like Facebook clearly display a member's name, the magic of the Internet still seems to provide a sense, or the illusion, of anonymity that allows people to comfortably share information. I'll admit to being guilty of it myself. There have been times when, through the facelessness of online chats and discussions, I've said things that I wouldn't have had the courage to say aloud or in a real world conversation.


Burgess, J., & Banks, J. (2010). User-created content and online social networks. In S. Cunningham & G. Turner (Eds.), The media & communications in Australia (3rd Ed., pp. 295-306). Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Here come the floods.

In the chapter by Katherine Hayes, Electronic Literature, she asks if the "dissemination mechanisms of the internet and the Web, by opening publication to everyone, result in a flood of worthless drivel?" (2008: 2). This is a tough question to answer directly, and definitely cannot be dealt a simple yes or no response.

First of all, who is to judge whether something is worthless or not. Different things appeal to different people. Writing or ideas that seem worthless to most people might have the strongest meaning of all to a specific group. If there's even one person out there who values the content, then it's no longer worthless. Not to mention the fact that it obviously is worth something to the person posting the content in the first place.

I think the overall idea that Hayes is getting at is that more widely appreciated information may start to lose focus in the sea of information that open publication allows for. It may become more and more difficult to find the things you're searching for when things that you're not searching for keep popping up instead.

Hayes, Katherine N. (2008) Electronic Literature. University of Notre Dame: Indiana. pp 1-4.