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Blog posts from March 2012

Marina Moreno: An Artist

A Surprising Moment

As a surprise for our final day of term, our University course’s leader brought in a guest lecturer. This was to be an interesting experience.

I knew something rather different was going to occur as soon as I arrived at our classroom a few minutes early – our course leader was setting up a number of the iMacs with some kind of art demo, along with a lady who I’d not seen before; possibly one of the fabled few who live in the IT department.

I was hurriedly shooed out of the room, and waited until they’d finished setting up.

Shortly we were invited into the classroom by our course leader (the IT lady had gone by now) and she explained that we were getting a very special talk from an international curator, who’d kindly agreed to come and speak to us and review our work (possibly with a view to show in her gallery).

This surprised me, and rather frustrated me: after all, we’d not been given the chance to get our work ready for display. This seemed a potential opportunity missed.

A few minutes later, the curator appeared. She’d just landed from a trip to Shanghai and so had with her a (bright yellow) suitcase. Her name: Eno Morino. Her company: Dead or Alive Media and Artists International. Her nationality: Italian. Her demeanour: quite, quite odd. Her outfit: a bright pink wig and have a rather, uh, colourful jacket.

I was already beginning to wish I’d slept in.

A Sombre Moment

What followed was a very strange hour. She took us through a power point presentation regarding an Italian artist called Marina Moreno – someone Eno had known in the past, but who had gone missing a few years ago, and was believed to have tragically died.

It was at this point she asked us to stand up and have a one minute silence.

Yep. To stand up, in our classroom, and have a one minute silence.

And you know what? We did. I think we were all too baffled to know whether to laugh, be sombre or try and escape while we could, but I certainly didn’t look at anyone else’s face through that silence. Probably the most uncomfortable moment I’ve experienced in years.

After this, Eno took us through a video named Artist Wanted Dead or Alive. This showcased some of Marina Moreno’s previous works (which focused on identity and often involved video and collaboration with other artists across multiple forms of media). This would’ve been quite interesting were it not for the sheer awkwardness of the various interviews with former friends and colleagues interspersed with the clips, and watching Eno watch this herself.

It was very, very surreal, and I’ll be honest that I was seriously considering having a word with our course leader at the end of this – we seemed to be involuntary mourners for an artist we’d not heard of, and coupled with the frustration of having our work assessed without prior warning, I wasn’t best pleased.

A Confusing Moment

Afterwards, Eno asked us what we thought of the video. The air could be cut with a knife. No one wanted to say a word through fear of insulting Eno.

But still… “what we thought of the video”?

Why was that relevant?

Surely the video was a memorial to her friend and wasn’t just an… art… piece.

Oh.

No.

The Moment

As she was removing her glasses and coat, and our course leader was grinning and saying “You’ve still got the wig on, Marina”, the mug was falling to the floor and Keyser Söze was strolling off to his limo.

Yep. Eno Morino was a character. Created by none other than Marina Moreno, who was indeed an artist – very much living, however – and just so happened to be a personal friend of our course tutor.

She also struck a resounding resemblance to the “IT Lady” I’d seen but an hour earlier.

I’d fallen for it hook, line and sinker. Apparently there were some very obvious signs, but my sheer indignation about the position we’d been put in blinded me to that.

Here’s the “homage” to Marina, Wanted Dead or Alive:

Marina Moreno

Anyway, the following few hours were much more pleasant and we found out more about Marina:

Background

She’s Italian and has lived and worked in various parts of the world (from Holland to Mexico). She trained at the School of New Dance in Amsterdam and attained a Visual and Performing Arts (Dance) BA from Brighton University in 1991. Recently, she completed her Masters in Art Practice in Education at UCE Birmingham.

She’s currently based in Bristol, and runs a inter-disciplinary art company called UrbanLaguna with fellow artist Michael Meldru.

Work

She works in a number of areas, such as dance, sculptures, film and video production. She enjoys using multiple types of media (particularly loving to use film in various forms), having produced various pieces using video, live performance and photography.

She focuses on identity through many of her works. In her piece UMANALAGUNA, she shows the lives of four seemingly totally different people, all having immigrated to the UK for different reasons, going about their regular everyday lives. This was created as a reaction to racist attacks in Bristol a few years ago, and illustrates how similar we all are as human beings:

There are many other pieces, which also adopt the multiple-videos approach used in UMANALAGUNA, and are often exhibited across multiple screens in various positions.

Have a look at all of Marina’s videos on her Vimeo Channel.

As an aside, she’d taken her “Eno Morino” character to the Tate Modern a few weeks before, and watching the video of that occurring was most entertaining. Full question and answers with various real curators… it was comforting to see it wasn’t just me that’d fallen for it. 🙂

‘Til next time, arrivederci!

Pat

Posted on Sat 31 Mar in Guest Lecturer with No Comments

The Power of Introverts

There are many impressive lectures on the TED web site. If you’ve never heard of TED, allow me to explain: it’s a huge collection of lectures, given at various conferences around the world and across a myriad of subjects. Many are thought provoking, a large number are interesting, but all are free.

One such lecture is by Susan Cain named The Power of Introverts.

If you’re a parent, it will be of interest to you. If you’re a teacher, it will be too. If you work in pretty much any industry, in fact, it will be of interest.

Before you continue reading this, please watch the video itself. You’ll probably better understand what I’m waffling about afterwards:

I’ll be honest, during the first 10 minutes of this video I was rather frustrated – was Cain stating that being an extrovert was a bad thing, or to be discouraged? I sought to hear the opposing view, with the many examples of where being an extrovert is of benefit.

But then I realised she was merely setting the stage, and explaining that in more recent times the more introverted were being sidelined; left behind by a society that values those who stand up and shout over those who sit back and consider.

I certainly recall the occasional “Thought Shower” in my former corporate life, where those few people that speak loudest and . Also, “meeting etiquette” suggests that one should speak up early in meetings in order to be listened to later (point 3).

She brings up an interesting point regarding “extrovert”-like behaviour being encouraged in education: more group activities, fewer self-study exercises. Surely this has an impact on those people who work better on their own, but then as a counter argument, surely the group activities give children an opportunity to improve upon their confidence working in groups.

This is where it started to get a little unclear for me.

Just what exactly classes as being an introvert versus an extrovert? Are they key personality traits that influence others, or are they just one measure of many other areas of one’s personality? Can one become one or the other? Should one try to become more of one than the other?

Through researching this online, I’ve learned that:

  • The concepts of introversion and extroversion are included in most psychological theories.
  • There is a scale of introvert-to-extrovert, and we are all more or less of both – a person who’s in the centre of the scale is known as an “ambivert”.
  • Some theorists (such as Carl Jung) state we each have separate introvert and extrovert parts of our personality, with one usually dominating the other.
  • You can change from an introvert to an extrovert, as per Steve Pavlina’s Experience.

So, if one can become an extrovert, should one? Well, in our current society I am inclined to say yes, because it would help one can easier make a difference / have an impact in this extrovert-favouring society. Of course, on the other hand, perhaps society should instead better support those of us who are more introverted.

Personally I consider myself an ambivert: I enjoy social interactions but I also very much appreciate time to myself when it all gets a bit too much. Heck, I love going walking by myself (and frequently do) and am happy in my own company for days at a time, but then when we watched Cain’s lecture at University I happy to openly discuss it in discussions afterwards.

I’d be very interested to hear the thoughts of those who watched it who considered themselves introverts, but for some reason they didn’t seem keen to discuss it in a group.

Odd.

🙂

Pat

Posted on Wed 28 Mar in Thoughts with No Comments

Time Based Media: Week 2

Good afternoon!

Well, that’s the second week of the Time Based Media module complete and I’ve now gathered various pieces of video research to help with the style of my music video.

Video Research

Here are some of the videos that I’ve considered for influencing my music video – these are not an extensive list, but a selection of those I’ve been looking at:

Videos for Similar Songs

Two of the key artists I felt the track Rocking Horse reminded me of were Jon Hopkins and Boards of Canada. I looked at some of their videos to determine whether these would be appropriate for my piece.

Boards of Canada – Music is Math:

There are various interpretations of this track available on YouTube. I felt this particular one had, at the beginning of the video, a rather dream-like feel similar to that I might attempt. However, the “old film grain” effect is not what I’m aiming for – I want to have more of a “clean” feel to it.

Jon Hopkins – [Whatever it was]:

This wasn’t really what I was going for, as it’s a very different interpretation of that style of music.

Videos with Dream-Like Feels

The Smashing Pumpkins – Today:

The bright, slightly washed out, high saturation feel to this video is what I’m after.

Aphex Twin – Window Licker:

Obviously not the majority of it, just moments at the start with the low sun shining over the top of the car…

EckektitTests – Dream Sequence Effect:

This strange motion blur effect adds a dream-like feel, and although this is too intense for my design I may use the same technique to create a more subtle blurring effect on my final video.

If you’ve got any ideas for similar video feels – particularly if you’ve got any recommendations for “People in a car looking out of the window on a sunny day” videos, that’d be muchos helpful! Plus Get in Touch!

Videos Directly Responding to Music

Chemical Brothers – Star Guitar:

This is my primary influence in terms of the scenery building/flowing in line with the music. Obviously I’ll not be expecting to achieve anything of quite this complexity! 🙂

BitBin – The Detour:

This uses an Affect Effects plugin to directly respond to the music. For the purposes of Rocking Horse a more subtle, slower feel will be applied – so this method probably isn’t appropriate for me.

Initial Movement Tests

Aside from the research, I’ve been working on a simple visualisation of the “scenery moving back and forth, and changing as it does that” dream-like method.

Here’s a test of the general idea of building up of scenery in line with the music. It’s a very basic, drawn-in-Illustrator-using-a-laptop-touchpad affair, and features no motion easing. However, it should illustrate the general idea of landscape “magically” changing on each pass:

This week I’ll be working on a more detailed storyboard for the piece, along with fine-tuning the shooting plan to ensure it’s as realistic – and interesting to watch – as possible.

Find out on here in a week just what I’ll’ve been working on…

Til then,

Pat

Posted on Mon 19 Mar in Creative,Uni,Video Production Journal with No Comments

Time Based Media: Week 1

Hi All,

As part of the “Time Based Media” module of the Digital Media Design FdA course I’m studying here in Brighton, we’re required to provide a weekly journal of our progress.

Now that I’m at the end of my first week of the module, I figured it was only right (and, um, rather required) to post the first of these.

Background

The brief for this module is to create a 60-90 video for a piece of music. It needs to reflect the theme, tone and general feel of the music itself, and be of a non-narrative nature (i.e. not involve someone acting). Other than that, we’ve got freedom over what we come up with.

On Monday we were given a number of pieces of music to listen to – our task was to write our immediate thoughts on them, and to select our favourite.

My Song Choice + Initial Idea

I chose an instrumental track named Rocking Horse by an artist known only to me as “NK”.

It’s a really pleasant, chilled out tune, which reminded me somewhat of Jon Hopkins album Opalescent and a little of Boards of Canada.

Softness, warmth, relaxation, peace, green and blue colours came to mind.

More specifically, images of someone travelling in a car through beautiful hilly landscape on a sunny day came to mind, as did a rather dream-like feel. I couldn’t get that idea from my head, so I stuck with it.

This past week has involved evolving that idea into more thought out.

Developing The Idea

Having recently watched Michel Gondry’s fantastic video to Chemical Brothers’ Star Guitar, the idea of the landscape passing by being linked to the music appealed to me. Each element of the scenery could be tied to particular sections of the music (that’ll be easy to do, right(!)).

On considering the cuts between the person in the car and the scenery going past, I decided that the video could flow more gently, in line with the music, if the scenery was simply seen as a reflection in the car window, with the person behind the window looking out. Focus would be changed from the person to the reflection at certain points in the track.

A single shot would also add power to the following effect:

In order to give the suggestion of “Rocking” from the title of the track, I would have the scenery move back and forward (as if the car were stopping, reversing, stopping, going forward, stopping… etc.).

However, to further support the “Dreamy” feeling of the track, the landscape being repeatedly travelled through will change in line with the music – so suddenly on passing by the same old hills again there are a load of trees, and on reversing and going back through them again there are now some horses in the fields and fences. The person in the car will remain un-phased by all of this strange, impossible occurrence, thus further suggesting it’s a dream.

How the heck do I get the scenery to do all this? Well, a hefty quantity of isolated hills/trees/other scenery elements all composited onto each other using Adobe After Effects, that’s how!

How to do that? I haven’t got a clue. But hey, Uni’s for learning after all! 🙂

Treatment

Here’s the draft treatment (a one page summary of my intentions for the video) that I’ve come up with for review tomorrow, which should explain things clearly:

NK Rocking Horse – Draft Treatment by Pat Scullion

Next week I intend to draw inspiration from videos and imagery to the look and feel of the video, in terms of what colours and film effects can make it look dreamy, relaxing etc. I might also do a very basic shapes-based mock up of how the scenery changes will look. But I’m not promising. 🙂

‘Til next time,

Pat

Posted on Sun 11 Mar in Creative,Uni,Video Production Journal with Comments (2)

Friday PM + Blank White Board = Strangeness

At least when I’m involved and I’ve not had much sleep during the week (all web work and no sleep makes Pat an odd boy).

I’d love to suggest that I’d researched a number of themes and artists in order to come up with this work, but that would not just be a lie, but a very, very obvious lie:

Strange Alien Thing
I was going to call it something like “Left Wing Infusion” or “Reforms?”, but I think it’s more appropriate to call it: “Strange Alien Thing With An Odd Volcano Monster In The Background”. Literal is the new abstract.

Anyway, that’s what I get up to when I’ve got a spare 5 minutes at the end of a Friday afternoon.

In other Uni-related news, we’ve started a module named Time Based Media, which involves us using Premier Pro and After Effects to make a short music video. Expect updates on this blog detailing how it’s going!

‘Til then, have a good weekend!

Pat

Posted on Sat 10 Mar in Creative,Uni with No Comments

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