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Protected: Class Notes – Augmented Reality and Ubiquitous Computing

May 12th, 2010

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Protected: Class Notes – March 24

March 24th, 2010

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A Remix: Woman Hold Ya Head and Cry

March 17th, 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ibgXeOHIMY

This is a remix of songs of three musical icons in Black communities in both the USA and Jamaica. All three are deceased but continue to engage the imaginations of various publics the USA and Jamaica. No doubt the creator of this remix saw similarities among all three men: black, male, coming from oppressed classes, music that dealt with themes around violence, machismo, and also the interrelatedness of Reggae and Hiphop music, the latter being influenced by or arising out of the former. Even though Bob is from an earlier generation and Biggie and Tupac are from a later one, there is a continuity in terms of the issues addressed in their music, more so Tupac with this concern for the sufferings of black youth in American society. Bob was equally interested in liberation struggles of the poor in Third World countries. This remix creates a space with respected artists from different generations and culture meet and dialogue about issues of concern in Bedstuy, Brooklyn, especially the killing and dying of the young, black male. Even more important, I think the remix highlights the suffering of black mothers who lose their sons to violence, to the streets in untimely deaths. Tupac and Biggie too, died untimely deaths and their mothers publicly grieved and mourned. In using Bob’s song from the 70s, the remixer is able to create a new product and connections across many years and generations, highlighting that things have changed but in many ways are still the same.

Everything sounds better autotuned

March 17th, 2010

The Gregory Brothers’ “Autotune the News” was a minor sensation last summer (the one linked above got some airplay on broadcast media; I found out about them when they were featured on Rachel Maddow’s show). Their stuff works through a sort of arbitrary juxtaposition and decontextualization; they take segments of video and audio that were originally created in purportedly serious contexts — news reports, debate shows, c-span — and craft them into a catchy, funny song, without much regard for the original political content of their material (or rather, through a deliberate and carefully maintained disregard of the political content).

In interviews the Gregory Brothers have noted that the decision of who is or is not frequently featured on Autotune the News is almost entirely driven by whether the figures’ voice can be autotuned into something catchy sounding, so for example Sarah Palin and Joe Biden, who apparently have voices that are easy to make soulful, show up much more often than croaky-voiced Dick Cheney, Keith Olberman gets about ten appearances for each one by Rachel Maddow, and, if one were to judge by Autotune the News, Katie Couric is the only network newscaster in America. Although occasionally political commentary / content from the AtN creators will slip through (for example, the line “I thought this bill was about the climate” in the above video), this is always brief; the political point of AtN is that it’s possible to read news broadcasts as being a series of manipulatable sounds rather than as “serious” political discourse. Frequently AtN episodes will start with the AtN creators green-screened into a Sunday debate show set, shouting “BORING!” over the original, pre-autotuned audio; the twin messages I see here are that:

  • The political discourse on television is so debased (or whatever) that turning it into a song is actually more useful than listening to it, or, alternately,
  • The content doesn’t matter, or at least the raw lulzy fun of repurposing something serious is valid no matter how important the content is

Although the Gregorys are most known for the AtN series, one way they thwart readings of their work that focus solely on the “American political discourse is lame” message is through some of the other videos they have on Youtube, featuring autotunings of acknowledged “great speeches” (for example, they’ve done autotunings of JFK and MLK Jr. speeches).

Mommy Dearest, Hillary Clinton (Music Video – ABBA)

March 16th, 2010
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RhXAbQjzYxE

This video takes us back to the Democratic primaries of 2008, reminding us of the plethora of political statements on YouTube available at that time (thanks John).  It is a typical remix, I think, using clips from political speeches, movie scenes, and a soundtrack that goes along with it.  In this case, the author obviously paints a negative view of Hillary Clinton, equating her to the crazy character Joan Crawford from the movie Mommie Dearest.  The author also uses ABBA’s Mamma Mia as the soundtrack.

The author has given a lot of thought to the different “cultural references” that goes into this remix.  Mommie Dearest is an early 80s film that is relatively well-known, famous for the crazy self-absorbed mother who abuses her child.  Mamma Mia is also well-known in American culture.  In this video, the opening lyrics “I’ve been cheated by you since I don’t know when” is blatant statement against Hillary, although the original did not have this intention.    All of these are mixed with several clips of Hillary’s interviews, speeches, and appearances (note also the repetition of certain excerpts for emphasis)…a perfect example of “something new that didn’t exist before” from “mixing symbolic things together” (p. 75).

Remixing, I think, takes the expression ‘taking things out of context’ and exploits it to create something new, in this case, to make a political statement.  In other words, the original intended meaning of the sources has been explicitly taken out to say something new … and this is where I agree with Lessig, namely, this kind of expression should not be a legal issue and should be encouraged…

March 15th, 2010

I was not familiar with the mash-up concept until doing the readings for this week and after browsing for a while Youtube I choose this video because of its political message. The strength of the video is derived from the combination of all its parts, which when pulled together as a group comment on each other and give new meaning/significance to the original music/images. As Lessig describes in his defense of this type of sampling: ” Their meaning comes not from the content of what they say; it comes from the reference, which is only expressible only if its the original that gets used. Images or sounds collected from real -world examples become “paint on a palette.” ” (74) In this case the real footage of the Katrina devastation along with images of Bush in which he appears smiley and removed from reality, flying high in his plane, are reinforced by the Hip-Hop song which is extremely critical of his actions in a very direct fashion. Given that the Hip-Hop song is an original one, although it does have sampling within it, I am not sure if the song is indeed a Mash-Up like the work by Girl Talk would be. The song along would make a political statement but when  paired with the images, it also speaks to and is critical of, the ways in which the media portrays minorities and contribute to reinforce racist stereotypes. The target of the political criticism in the video incorporates both Bush and the media simultaneously by combining all the different elements into one stream.

Shining Remix

March 14th, 2010

This is one of my favorite remixes, taking “The Shining” and creating a trailer that makes the film look like a family film.  This was created by a New York editor, Robert Ryang, for a contest held by the Association of Independent Creative Editors.

From a cultural perspective, trailers like this one and remixes like Hitler’s Downfall, allow things to be re-seen.  And it makes it easier to look at something with a fresh perspective once that window of possibilities has been opened.

From a commercial perspective this points to the fact that we are often at the mercy of the advertisers or PR people on what our first impressions are.  Because it is so easy to change the meaning by re-editing, and adding music, voice over, or text.  This trailer is meant as a spoof, but here two cases where a misleading trailer was the one used to market the film.  When “Miracle on 4th Street” was first released, it was in July, so the trailer makes it seem the film is a romance removing all traces of Santa.  In 2007 with the release of “Bridge to Terabithia” the trailers made the movie appear to be a fantastical action adventure quest, and while that is part of it, the movie is really a coming of age story of two best friends.  Imagine what would have happened if this Shining trailer had been released to the public as the real thing.

Thriller Remix by The Floozies

March 12th, 2010

Mark and Matt Hill, brothers from Lawrence, KS, make up the duo known as “The Floozies”.  Both are skilled musicians who have spent the last few years recording and performing unique remixes, incorporating a variety of music genres.  In this video, Matt is performing a remix of Michael Jackson’s 1982 hit song Thriller.  The entire performance and recording were done by Matt alone.  Four locked off cameras are recording different angles of his performance.  This video not only presents a unique re-creation of a popular song almost twenty years later, but also demonstrates the technological capabilities that make such a recording possible.  One can see from this example, at least one of the points that Lessig was trying to make in Remix, that being the value of the amateur musician that John Philip Sousa was, at least partially, trying to protect in 1906 (23).  Here we see a creative artist, affordable technology, and open distribution, coalescing to make a contribution to popular culture.

on line classes article

March 4th, 2010

Hello all,

I thought this might be interesting to the rest of the class in case you have not seen it.

http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/03/college-degrees-without-going-to-class/

Learning Spaces (Feb 17)

February 15th, 2010

When reading about CMS, and from what I’ve heard from people who use blackboard, I get the impression that they don’t really work. Pulling from my discipline of television, CMS kind of reminds me of the problem of putting educational content into entertainment, it doesn’t always fit seemlessly, and when the education is shoved in to the story to meet a standard you end up with something that is neither educational or entertaining. CMS seems like it often has a similar problem where no one really likes it or knows how to use it, and it becomes a redundant tool, with the exception of a few items. My first introduction to blackboard was a few years ago when I took a class where all grades were posted on it. I spent a few weeks trying to figure out where this “blackboard” was before a classmate finally explained. The teacher never gave an introduction, assuming that all students were aware of the class system. In order for CMS to really work both teacher and students need to be able to work together to use a tool that seemlessly integrates to the course.

The article on RSS feeds goes along with the CMS information, in that if the tools aren’t used, they are useful. Courses like ours, to help teachers integrate these types of tools are necessary. Even in our course there is a learning curve to using the technology. It is so easy to revert to “traditional” learning methods.

Crowd-sourced grading is an interesting concept. In some ways I think it mirrors how I felt grades were moving toward the end of high school. A’s were becoming common and expected, and moving to the standard. If you did all the work well, then you got an A. Teachers were still grading everything, however, many of our daily assignments were checked off for completion or trade and grade.

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