Howdy all – thanks to all who came to this session. For those who missed it – we discussed briefly a few of the high points of the Scott McLoud reading, distributed a few texts, and watched excerpts from the following films:
There are a few reasons these films and the McLoud readings tie in well – most obviously because they are all extremely self referential portraits of their form. Other subject matter is dealt with in each, but each, in its own way, dissects the language and character of the very medium used as delivery. For McCloud, this means using comic book grammar and syntax to explain comic books.
For Vertov, we get both a logistic (exposure and editing processes, as well as persistence of vision – the primary illusion of film – exposed and laid bare) and impressionistic (the camera’s ‘gaze’ mimicking the way the eye works – arguably non-sequential and ‘spotty’) deconstruction of ‘Film’ as the film itself progresses. (See also Bill Morisson’s “Decasia” for an amazing treatment of this former logistical dissection. I have it if anyone wants to borrow…)
Finally with the Pervert’s Guide, we get Zizek, positioned physically inside the very films he uses as a basis for a kind of cultural Freudian analysis. This decision, as a production technique and decision on the part of the film makers, most definitely relates to a discussion we had later in the session regarding the implied and total narrative we present as people, artists, creators to others. I wonder how aware the film makers were of the effect these scenes would have on what Zizek would actually say, in his improvisational, rambling style.
So, a few further notes regarding what we talked about (or what I think we talked about – please insert your thoughts in the comments!):
- Word of the Day: Deconstruction (of an apparent self-referential sort)
- What is the grammar and syntax of what you do? Of other forms (the web, text, converstaion, social interaction, computer/machine-interaction, audio, music, hip hop, spoken word, improvised comedy, etc., etc.)
- What kind of opportunities does an increased awareness of a form’s language, syntax, grammar present?
- Suggestion: Only once we understand the ‘atoms’ of a form, can we then begin to ‘non-linearize’ them, truly play with that form.
- Is intentionally thrwarting the rules of the “natural language” necessarily a good idea? It’s an extremely common excuse (ha!) for art making… People are forever ‘problematising’, ‘questioning’, ‘antagonising’ their context/work. E.g.: Non-linear text or free-improvisation… is is sometimes just plain self-indulgent?
- Truth(?): Everything humans beings do is narrative, and everything human beings experience is narrative. So, what’s your narrative? Do you control it, or does it control you? What’s story does your work tell? How well is that story told? Are you really the ‘author’?
We can look further in a later session at Electronic Literature as a form. It’s something I’ve become more and more interested in as people become more ‘literate’ at reading media in general, particularly the web. For example, what are the ‘fictions’ of online culture, what are its folk stories and fables, and how do people read the web in, for example, a post-LonelyGirl15 or post-LOLcats online space? Surely these memes and phenomena require or point to a sophistication of language – a complexity of grammar and syntax of online forms.
The Hobbit – video game
Filmtext, by Mark Amerika – E-lit pioneer
Finnegans Web – Good example of pre-internet forms (some of which are what’s termed “ergodic literature”) that seem to fit quite well within hyperlinked contexts.
The Quote-O-Matic – An excellent interactive piece by an old friend that uses a barcode scanner to generate quotes regarding the product at hand. Not much info up on his site – but scanning the barcode for a bag of oranges at your local supermarket might yield, ““Life is like a grapefruit. Well, it’s sort of orangy-yellow and dimpled on the outside, wet and squidgy in the middle. It’s got pips inside, too. Oh, and some people have a half a one for breakfast.” – Douglas Adams
NOTE: Will try and give you more notice on the readings for the next few Reading Group sessions – keep in mind that these aren’t intended to be directed lectures, so come along with other materials and your own notes. Would be great to dig into other references outside of what’s assigned!