Monthly Archives: October 2010

Rajwinder Kaur and MC Hentz Present: DRABBLE.

It’s: HIGHper-Sexed Semi-Political allegory sweetened by Southern Hospitality and the just right amount of… “What the hell was that?”

It’s: Creatures of the night, Ghoulish Greek Mythology and the endangered Nymph-Dandelion-battle for the BRIGHT POWER SOURCE of the working class girl, who… pumps liquid life and Love through her beer-tapped short-short veins and whose… accent isn’t even mildly believable during those emotionally EXPLOSIVE self-righteous post-feminist monologues.

It’s: the love of a Drainer-Transformer, cold and pale, trend-inducing, hip cannibalistic Civil War Era sexual encounters that sell in bottles of O-Positive and A-Negative high definition.

Romeo DRINKS Juliet.

Normative’s “Evolution of Remix Culture”

Limewire died this week.

The last foot soldier in the fight against the big bad music industry. An industry that sucks money from artists directly, and apparently doesn’t want that to change. The vicious war on p2p sharing is NOT in the name of the musician. The musicians are getting fleeced by the labels anyhow. Radiohead understands that, so why can’t the government? Instead of fighting the inevitable, we need to look into new revenue streams and create a better system of open possibilities.

As Normative says, infinite and inflexible copywrite laws stifle the new wave of viewer participation and social integration. My adolescence was defined by a stagnant relationship to technological entertainment and viewership. TV was a vegetative distraction that kept me from doing my homework, it was a mind numbing, fantastical, sedating experience. The computer was equally as isolating, before we had the internet I would sit for hours traversing the Oregon Trail until I died of dysentery, or Doodling on Kid Pix. Now, I’m not saying this interaction with entertainment was entirely fruitless – I learned some very valuable lessons about morality from re-runs of “The Facts of Life,” and Oregon Trail taught me a great deal about Manifest Destiny – but while I was interacting with my entertainment consciously, I wasn’t creating – I wasn’t sharing this experience with others.

Then… sometime in the midst of my long four years in high school, the world changed; the internet became personal. Myspace, Facebook, Youtube all introduced me to the idea that I could live and breathe my thoughts and feelings through the wires and cables that lead to the outside world endless possibilities. I could exist outside myself – I could publish, propagate, inspire and learn, all at once, without leaving my chair. And then there were the connections, the mere idea of interacting and sharing with millions of people all over the world with the same interests, passions and ideas, the same need to create, was overwhelming. This was a whole new world of thought.

Contrary wise, many people today seem mourn the death of personal connection. I can honestly say that there are times when I find our culture superficially bound together by the simple tweets and facebook posts that take seconds to send. If we really cared that much about so and so, wouldn’t we call? Wouldn’t we send an email or, God forbid, a letter? I am the girl that collects typewriters and Polaroid cameras because I fear our culture is shifting towards a world of intangible forces. Celluloid film is dead. Coffee table photo albums are an endangered species. And craftsmanship ain’t what it used to be. I strive to live in a world where there is love in everything. In our words, in our work, in our art. And good news, I think we’re on our way.

Easily accessible video and other creative online platforms lead to the equal and fast dissemination of ideas and projects. Good work can be seen and passed along; the people, not the media, has the power to speak up and support what we want and like. We are our own tour guides in the chaotic world of mass culture. We don’t have to prescribe to the constructs of mainstream passive viewership anymore.

And even when our YouTube generation isn’t trying to relay a specific message or goal, we participate to be seen, to be recognized and appreciated for what we have to offer in our multi-national/cultural/intellectual/hyper individualistic society. We seek connection with friends and others like us around the country, around the world.

We all want to be seen, we all want to be loved. It’s human nature that thrives on connection, and in a world perpetually divided by isolationist technologies, we must make our media connect; we must fight the impulse to separate and embrace the possibilities of a shared technological culture.

Viral video changed everything

I’ve recently stumbled upon some wonderfully high-larious web series based/celebrity impersonations which personify how deep this whole remix culture really goes. Not only is content out there to be remastered and reimagined, but the people themselves… given it’s a little mean, but still, wonderfully creative and funny none-the-less.

Very Mary Kate:
…And a fan remix: ReMIX!

Chloe (Sevigny): “Resolutions, by Chloe”

Brilliant. : the Epitome of REmix

“In everything I do, I endeavour to espouse and inspire enthusiastic novelty. My intention is for that to come through loud and clear in my interactions with everybody I meet. Especially you.” – Burning Dan

Last year I spent the very end of my J-term in Park City Utah, by myself, at Sundance.

Why? Well aside from my overwhelming desire to spend all my time watching off-beat indie films and animated shorts – this was a trip spurred on by an overwhelming sense that I, Mary-Caitlin Hentz, was floating. I had gotten into a pattern of artistic passivity, subconscious complacency. I wasn’t writing, I wasn’t creating; I was asleep. I was stuck with one foot in college and the other in daydreams that sat at least a full year outside my reach. I was frustrated with my transience and my perceived inability to be doing what I’ve always wanted to do.

So I packed a suitcase, bought a ticket, and left.

Days go by, and all of a sudden I’m getting my sparkle back, that insatiable need to put words on paper, to paint, to sing, to swim. Screening after screening, lecture after lecture, bar conversations and sidewalk talk with people like me, people who can’t imagine another path or course ahead of them – people who know themselves too well to fight their daydreams.

This wholeness, however, didn’t reach it’s full potential until the very end of my trip. The night I found Lexy and the rest of the hitRECord team. The very second I met Lexy, a whimsical mess of red lipstick and 40’s flair, I knew it was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. She shimmered and smiled like a disney princess, her spirit overtaking everyone she met with optimism and beauty – she’s the one that introduced me to the endless possibilities of the world of remix culture.

Her boyfriend Joe, an actor, had started a hitRECord five years earlier with the help of his brother (Burning) Dan and friends. The idea behind the website is stated by Joe as such:

“We create and develop art and media collaboratively here on our site. So rather than just exhibiting and admiring each other’s work as isolated individuals, we gather here to collectively work on projects together. Videos, writing, photography, music, anything — we call them all RECords. Now and then, when I think something we’ve made has come out especially well, I approach the traditional entertainment industry to turn our work into money-making productions; and then we share any profits with the contributing artists.”

I logged on, and the passivity dissolved. hitRECord allows us to work together as artists and as people to create lasting relationships and beauty across oceans and time-zones, culture and class -this is what I had been looking for all along. A playground for my own overactive imagination, were whimsy and passion are born and bred, upheld and revered.

This is art. This is active viewership.

DJ Spooky.

And then there was light.

…and Sight. Sound. Feeling. Color. Air and Earth and Sea.

Notes, words, words and more words, more notes, scales, chords, phrases, sentences and paragraphs, languages, more languages. The Old Testament, the New Testament, the Torah and Koran. The great American novel. The pop song. Gregorian chant. Ballet, jazz and tap. Break dancing, indie rock, slam poetry and a sonnet or two. There was Taming of the Shrew, Ten Things I Hate About You and seven hundred different cross-media adaptations of Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Ironman. Man, man, man. How bout a film about Wonder Woman? But without the hot pants. Yeah, I didn’t think so.

And outside, animals tempted by the Darwinian promise of bigger and better leap towards like lemmings towards the “E” word – some succeed, some… splat.

Evolution/Adaptation, the foundation of creation – we take what we know and grow bigger, brighter, shinier truths with more megabytes and sleeker packaging. Laundry detergent is laundry detergent, air is air, words are words and all brands of dish soap are born out of the same elemental components and “Leave it to Beaver” functionality.

There are only so many notes, so many sounds, so many chemical-compounds that shift like quicksand to suit the mood, our bank account, chore wheels, time tables and…

We are the revolution. The high-speed internet and social networking soldiers raised on a steady diet of copy-written sugar cereal and those Napster-Megavideo Ghost stories, that never quite scared us kids – though our parents seemed afraid enough, and yes we are tired. Tired of being tired, tired of Fruit Roll Up comas and the condescending art-attacks that filter through the high definition TV screens that we don’t even watch anymore. Instead letting the blue-white glow of our smaller screens serve as our chariots into the raging battle of whens and whys and what to watches – the hows and the rights and the wrongs.

So we fight for the right to… party… no – to use bigger building blocks to create an amalgamated, mish-mashed, remixed, international, inter-intellectual, cross-generational, emotionally charged culture of “I refuse to sit on my ass and consume this crap you call television.” There’s a reason The Simple Life isn’t on air anymore.

…Welcome to the Renaissance of culture.

TV vs. Film

I’ve been watching a great deal of television as of late – by which I really mean to say, the past three years. I used to think that I only wanted to work in film, to make grande acrylic opus’ of 115 pages – self contained art. A beginning, an end. The medium first appealed to me as the intersection of everything I loved : music, dance, theater, painting, photography. I had watched the Mothlight of Stan Brackage and the Eclipse of Antonioni, I felt the ache of The Graduate and the guilty fluff of Pirates of the Caribbean. To me, TV felt like second hand cinema. Filler for bored children of the attention deficit generation and people home sick from work. Of course there were shows I watched, The Simpson’s was a Sunday night staple in my house for the first 13 years of my life. The first season of The OC, the occasional Episode of Charmed… Friends, blah blah so on and so forth.

Yes, these were all things I flicked on at 2 am when I couldn’t sleep and didn’t want to finish my math homework – but they didn’t inspire feeling in me like the Dustin Hoffman’s post collegiate detachment, like the black and white click clack of tap shoes on 42nd Street, like the spectacle of a film explosion or the reunion of a films formerly star-crossed lovers.

But then, a few years ago, something happened: I discovered better television, and consequently discovered the true power of Television over Film – a deep emotional core that allowed focus on character development and relationships without sacrificing the narrative arc. Suddenly my eyes were opened to the subtly that more time allowed, the evolutionary power of season upon season of: Six Feet Under, Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks, Dexter, Weeds, True Blood, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Lost, Veronica Mars, Glee, 30 Rock, The Office, Dead Like Me – it was like having my first serious boyfriend; the movies had been fleeting summer flings, memorialized in coffee table photo albums and fond Facebook messages… but these television shows were the real, committed, living together, buying a cat and breaking up painfully kind of deal.

Every passion we have is a relationship. Every human interaction with the natural and creative world a contract in time and space, a molding of intent and emotion within our minds and hearts. Every like and dislike a conscious forming of ourselves and the world around us. It’s hard to be a dedicated television fan, to fall in love with characters who evolve and change week after week and season after season – there’s more room for disappointment in television. Your favorite actor is killed off in season two and it ruins the rest of the series… or perhaps the writing just stops being good. Losing faith in something you once adored and revered is never easy. I feel the ache in this current season of Dexter… the energy is gone, the routine tired, and I feel myself waxing nostalgic about John Lithgow and bathtubs.

It takes more energy to dedicate oneself to a series. It’s draining. It’s time consuming. It’s commitment. Perhaps thats why stand alone-episodic shows like Family Guy and Two and a Half Men are so popular – once the 23 minutes is over, the fan can disconnect, not worry about where their make-believe friends are headed. Because, despite Charlie Sheen’s rampant cocaine addiction, he’ll be back next week, all smiles and one liners to sedate the masses without any real form of commitment.

Fuller… Chapter 6: The Movie Fan

I challenge you, or anyone for that matter, to find someone in this country who doesn’t like movies – aside perhaps from some 97 year-old evangelical woman with clinical cinephobia who lives in the middle of the desert. Or the Amish.

Obsessive hyperbolizing aside – anyone who prescribes to the practices and ideals of mainstream American society is bound to enjoy watching movies. We are all “fans” of movies, but what makes one a “Movie Fan” seems to be a whole different kind of crazy. There is a reason the word Fanatic starts with F-A-N. Fandom is an obsession, an insatiable daydreaming consumerism and ardor for the unattainable life of celebrity and filmic perfection. The stigma of the term “Movie Fan” is a perfect example of the ageless obsession with words that began with Adam and Epoch and continues today in our growing and evolving language, our minute differentiation, the reason women are afraid to call themselves “feminists;” words carry the baggage of their social and historical implications – a word, is never really just a word.

As with the debate over the term “feminist,” those who enjoy movies, perhaps more than most seek to validate their passion in rational and intelligent thought – from this defensive reconstruction comes the term “cinephile,” “Movie Fans” who consume consciously, actively, and for higher purpose.

When I think of a “Movie Fan,” whether in its original context or today, I think of a juvenile, squealing girl who wastes half her paycheck or allowance on fan magazines. I think of “Teen Beat” and “Bop” magazines, I think of people chasing after Justin Beiber, or The Beatles, I think of people fainting.

I admit my views on the subject come from an elevated psychological plane of superiority, I would like to pretend I’m above the hubub of fandom – and on some levels, I am, but merely because I’ve lived in LA – yes, I met Chris Pine at a birthday party right after I fell into a swimming pool. Was it awkward? Yes. Did I faint? No. Did my heart beat a little faster? Duh. Was I briefly wooed by the shimmery allure of a fantastical filmic existence? Of course.

There is a part of me that is still 13-years old, whether I want to admit it or not – we are all impressed by the life of the movies, we are all “Fans,” and we shouldn’t be embarrassed to admit it.

Fuller…Chapter 5: The Picture Palace

It never ceases to amaze me how thin the veil of class divisions are, how alike we all really are, that, at the very heart of things, everyone wants to experience the same fundamental feelings and exercise the same natural senses.

The other day I was in Burlington with a few friends and we stumbled upon a multimedia art exhibit that broached this very subject – among other things, it consisted of a large, interactive touch screen called "I Want You to Want Me"– a study of human wants and desires, specifically in regards to love and dating.

Now what amazed me about this piece, and what is consequently relevant to my comment on basic human similarity, is the  overwhelming homogeny of our emotional lives: people want/experience the same feelings – across age, gender, socioeconomic status, race, sexual orientation, we all experience daily interactions between our senses, our emotions, and our expectations that defy stereotypes and statistics.

Now apply this to art, and we see a transparent trend. We all enjoy the same feelings, these experiences merely shift and adapt to suit our cultural and societal context. The Picture Palace was a way of channeling the upscale legitimacy of the Opera, of the Theatre. The soft seats and suited ushers pampered and preened the higher classes until they felt sufficiently sedated and at home enough to loosen their shirt collars and enjoy the show – they were served what they wanted, the affirmation of their superior social standing, and the relief of audience homogeny.

Picture Palace : Nickelodeon as Burlesque : Strip Club – Different ways of staging and fulfilling basic human desires.

Fuller… Chapter 4: Alternative Viewing.

I remember being in elementary school and praying for the teacher to be out sick or too tired to deal with us – anything that might result in a sacred hour and a half of staring at that small fuzzy TV they’d roll in from class room to class room on such occasions.

It was the very same TV that illustrated a journey through your digestive system on the “Magic School Bus”  back in fourth grade, and then two years later solicited giggles and “Ews” from the the long awaited “You’re becoming a Woman!” video. “A Mid-Summer Night’s Dream” with Kevin Kline and Christian Bale, Civil War documentaries, Awkward Spanish videos from the 80’s that followed along with your outdated textbook.

The same thing happened in CCD, videos of bible stories or illustrated tales of modern day morality where all of a sudden at the point of decision making we get a freeze framed: “What should Johnny do now? …What would Jesus do?!”

The CPR class I took last weekend was predominantly taught by a television.

When Fuller discussed alternative viewing styles and filmic modification of the early part of the 20th century, I found the concept strange, for alternative uses for film are both abundant and widely accepted in today’s society. What is different however, is that alternative film no longer seeks to usurp mainstream cinema in either value or prominence, and has settled nicely into it’s various niches, both educational and moral.

When I was younger, the in class movie was a chance to turn off my head, a chance to draw hearts on my Lisa Frank notebook and daydream about more important things, like what being a teenager felt like. Now, with weekly screenings filling up my Tuesday and Thursday nights for the past four years, I take a far different and more active approach. These are not the teachers of fifth grade looking to quiet a rowdy group of East Coast hoodlums, nor is it the rigid CCD teacher I disagreed with on nearly every modern day social political issue  – with choice came better alternative viewing, an active participation with film that I’d never had before.