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Welcome to my final portfolio for Media Technology & Cultural Change. Below you will find the four projects we put together through the semester, and a final project to wrap up the year. Through the semester we studied how today’s technologies affect society and how we interact with other people and media, differently from how we did before certain media were available.

PAPER

Paper1

Our first project was to use the medium of paper, to make an analysis, or statement, about paper. Guillaume, Hunter and I decided at the beginning of our brainstorming that we wanted to make an argument contrary to what many people were saying in class – that paper was such a limited medium compared to computers, and other new media which incorporated the ideas of paper in a modern form. We wanted to somehow show how versatile paper is, but at first struggled to figure out how we would do this on just one sheet of paper. We were working just after reading McCloud’s book on comics, and found ourselves inspired by the reading to make the design of our paper similar to that of a comic book page. We decided that by incorporating a narrative, we would be able to show multiple uses of paper, from a global perspective. We used the time line of a traveler to display paper in its many forms. We started first with three definitions of paper, hoping to allow our audience to understand that this was a project about paper’s different capabilities. Then we began our paper adventure across the world to Paris, and we showed paper as a passport, map, photograph, currency, e-mail, newspaper, map, and paper airplane.

With our final product, we wanted to show not only these different USES of papers, but also the different PROPERTIES of paper. Properties that our project demonstrates is that paper is tactile, tangible, manipulative, transportable, moderately delicate, and flexible.

We used as much original material as possible to collage, so the notebook paper, photograph, newspaper, e-mail, and currency were all real. By doing this, we were able to show that paper can also be different in terms of it’s style of make, and its finish (glossy vs. matte).

Unfortunately, putting this project on an online blog to display, takes away the ability for an audience to see some of our main points, because so much of our analysis has to do with the physical properties of paper and how it feels to hold it in your hands and interact with it. After flipping through the project sequentially, the paper opens up fully and you can see the different components in their comic book-like layout. Please go to http://sites.middlebury.edu/littleepstein/2010/03/10/paper-project/ to see the FULL project!!

PaperFull1PaperFull2



PODCAST

I really enjoyed this project, because I love working with audio and had an opportunity to do lots of mixing for my and Shane’s podcast. I think I also found it to be one of the most difficult projects. Although putting together what we have was quite time consuming, it wasn’t the writing, recording, or editing that was the hardest task. Coming up with the initial project idea was very challenging. For all the projects in this class, the hardest part was not coming up with what analysis or critique you want to make about a medium, but how to convey that message without explicitly stating it in the final piece. I think I struggled with this more on the podcast than any other project. I’m also not sure though that I was aware of this struggle until we presented in class for our critiques. I am still very pleased with our final product in terms of craft, and I think it still makes valid points about what media has become today, but I do wish I had thought more outside the box for how to present our idea. I think the moment that this project really clicked for me was when we heard Mark and Guillaume’s podcast (listen here: http://sites.middlebury.edu/mwhelan/2010/03/07/podcast-project/). Some people in class argued that while the project was very well done for those of us who knew the assignment, I thought it was spot on for any audience. I thought it made a classic argument about how strongly different audio can effect us, and was presented in a great way which required no explicit explanation.

REMIX VIDEO

When Toren and I initially came up with our idea, we thought it was a good one and were excited about it. Then as we continued to gather YouTube clips of Justin Beiber and Tay Zonday, I started to worry that we were focusing too much on the narrative of YouTube fame, and not enough on the concept of remix culture. But then I realized that what we were doing was making a documentary, and really the whole genre of documentary filmmaking is remix. Documentaries use film from varying sources, and cut it together to tell one cohesive story. I hope that Toren and I were successful in doing this with our video about YouTube stardom. We pulled over 30 different clips from YouTube to create a remix video, and chose to tell two contrasting stories of YouTube fame, allowing us to incorporate some of the other ideas we’ve talked about in class, in addition to the remix style. I think this was my most successful project this semester in making an analysis without making any explicit statements of my own. I think the media really makes the point itself, and that an audience from outside our class would also understand.

GAMING


The statement we wanted to make with this project was that people become so involved in their games, that they enter a second life through their avatar. Video games become a way for people to escape (get away) from the real world, and do things that would have too severe consequences in their first life. We chose the song “Get Away” to help establish this theme and make the timeline a cohesive piece. We also wanted to make a B statement about the art of machinima. We chose Grand Theft Auto as our game to escape into because it allows the player to control the camera angles. We worked hard to choose specific shots from distinct camera angels so that it wouldn’t just look like a simple video game image. Then we cut it all together and intercut with shots of Hunter playing the game to show the juxtaposition of the avatar second life, and Hunter in real life with the game controller in his hand.

I think this was a successful project in making our analysis clear through the media itself. People in the class seemed to have a clear understanding of our argument, as did friends outside the class who I showed it to.
Unfortunately we didn’t find time to shoot new scenes to add, but I think adding a more finalized ending would have made the project better. We could have ended with a shot of Hunter putting down the controller and walking out of the room after the game ended.

FINAL PROJECT
Since our group really enjoyed the video game project, we wanted to play with that idea more, and expand on the concept that we displayed in the previous project. We were initially going to do our final project with a more general theme to say what the class was about as a whole, but decided that was too broad and going to be too difficult to put into one self explanatory project. We wanted to make sure we incorporated different media and made a more in-depth analysis of how people interact with video games.

Similar to my and Hunter’s gaming project, Hunter, Shane, and I wanted to have that same analysis embedded in it, while also elaborating on how people can not only get away, but also become whoever they want. From the comfort of their bedroom, they can be anyone from a professional football player, to a snowboarder, to a guitarist. We also chose to use footage of the real professionals to show how video games mimic real life. For music we chose to use “Tribute to Ms. Lonely” by Milkman because we spent so much time on the remix culture in class, and because the structure of this project also demonstrates the craft of a remix video. We also wanted to have a “mash up” song for our music because a song like this is always changing, using various components but still acts as one independent unit. This is just like Shane in the video, who as a gamer can play as many different people and imagine himself at the professional level of any career, but behind the controller he is one independent human being, potentially lacking all of those skills in real life.

In terms of making the project better, I wish that we had each dressed as video game characters for the final shots down the hallway. Our point for using that sequence was to show Shane as himself, and then as different versions as if he was morphing from all his different games. We each wore his t-shirt to try to link each person to Shane, but I think each dressing as a video game character or at least holding a prop (football, snowboard, guitar) would have made this point more clear, and wrapped up the project with a stronger ending.


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