Visual Narrative

Rewind to Italy Circa 1952

1) Summary

In Kogonada’s What is neorealism?, he rewinds time to Italy circa 1952 in which he imagines the same film shot by  different producers to compare a clash in sensibility. He compares two cuts of the same film, one by Vittorio De Sica and the other by David O. Selznick. He runs the two films side by side and examines each cut. In the differences, he finds something to say about the essence of neorealism. Both films start with a shot of a city, but Selznick tells you which city and connects the theme to love. Selznick’s second shot is of a letter being written which spells out the central tension of the film. While, De Sica’s scene takes twice as long and reveals far less of the central tension. Selznick consistently prefers a shorter take than De Sica. Selznick implies the act of walking by jumping through the scene, but De Sica endures the act of walking. Sleznick seeks to cut out the in between moments to not lose the viewer’s attention on the main character. Whereas, De Sica values these moments and lingers on the extras in the film. Usually, the camera follows the lead character once he/she leaves the frame. Selznick uses this tactic in his films as he does not want any excessiveness or distractions to derail the plot. However, De Sica keeps rolling which is a favorite move by him because he sees these extra moments as vital parts of the film’s entirety, as the essence of a different kind of cinema, and as more critical than plot or story. Kogonada ends by stating, “To ask, what is neorealism is to ask what is cinema.”

2) Response

I think Kogonada’s approach to different production styles of cinema was brilliant and a fresh take on film. In this 5 min video, he keeps the viewer intrigued throughout it by constantly comparing the two different styles of Vittorio De Sica and David O. Selznick. It is interesting how he examines each cut to show the different take on cinema that each of the producers would have. It was quite through-provoking and made me realize the impact that seemingly subtle edits can have on the overall narrative of the film. One who is not a cinephile may not have realized the difference in approach that a film can have through illustrating the plot or story, but this video brings to the light that very difference  by comparing two unique styles of Hollywood storytelling. Personally, I like a mixture of both shorter and longer takes. I feel that some scenes, depending on the story, can benefit from being shorter or longer, which in part influences the overall meaning or mood of the film. Jean-Luc Godard once said, “The only great problem of cinema seems to be more and more, with each film, when and why to start a shot and when and why to end it.”

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Appropriation & Remix

Embrace the Remix

1) Summary 

In Kirby Ferguson’s Everything is a Remix: Part Three, he discusses the processes of copy, transform, and combine as the elements of creativity. According to Ferguson, “Creativity isn’t magic. It happens by applying ordinary tools of thought to existing materials.” Copying is the first element of creativity; it is how we learn and build a foundation of knowledge about the previous formed ideas of people before us. For instance, Hunter S. Thompson re-typed The Great Gatsby just to see how it would feel to write an award-winning novel. After we have learned the fundamentals of copying, the next step of creativity is the ability to create something new through transformation. By taking an idea and creating variations, transformation becomes a new way to innovate. The last element is a combination of ideas that can result in major creative leaps. An example of this is the personal computer revolution in which Apple copied and combined all of the features from the XEROX Star 8010, but transformed them in a more user friendly way than the original.

2) Response

Ferguson’s approach to the history and elements of creativity made me realize that we live in a world where everyone is seeking inspiration from others. We are constantly filling our heads with other people’s ideas, and without even knowing it, our originality begins to diminish. In Ferguson’s TEDTalk Embrace the Remix, Ferguson brings up the debate about Bob Dylan’s own originality; Some people claim that Bob Dylan stole other artists’ songs. Throughout his career, Dylan did not even recognize that many of his songs were just melodies that had been copied, transformed, and combined with new lyrics. So, some of the most well-known artists, writers, inventors, etc. that claim they are original are, in actuality, using the elements of creativity to create something that will impact the world on a grand scale. Personally, I am constantly inspired by others work, and I have copied, transformed, and combined ideas from books, music, films, and art in my own creative process. One of my favorite books, IT, is pretty much 192 pages of all the things that have inspired Alexa Chung from when she was young to now. It shows how her style and art has evolved and been influenced by all of the beautiful ideas that surround her in everyday life. Also, one of my favorite speeches, Tavi’s Big Big World, is given by Tavi Gevinson as she talks about the struggles she faced to be as original as possible when it came to all aspects of her life. She eventually realized that she was most creative when she was influenced by other people’s work, so she grew to embrace inspiration from other sources. So, I just surrender to the fact that no one, not even myself, is going to be completely original; for me, it is satisfying to fill my head with other people’s ideas and see life through their eyes.

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Appropriation & Remix

Analog Reborn

1) Summary 

In a section of Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock, the author compares analog to people. In the world of analog, such as film photography, the original negative must be preserved. By continuously copying the original negative through a printing machine, it degrades the quality and begins to diminish the beauty of it. With successive photocopies, each one gradually contains more noise or visual distortion. For example, each exposure of flash photography onto an original painting will over time diminish the brilliance, so that is why using camera flash at museums is prohibited. Unlike analog, digital photography does not have to use an original negative. Therefore, digital copies are not impressions made from an original source; they are the originals themselves “as if utterly reborn in every instant.” In the end, “people are still analog.”

2) Response

I really gravitated towards this idea that Rushkoff mentioned about the relationship between people and analog. Just as film, their is a uniqueness to each and every human being. No film photograph will ever turn out the same, some may be grainer than others, some may have light leaks, some may have multiple exposures; that is the beauty of analog. As with each new person you meet, they have that similar sense of mystery and wonder, which after development may lead to a pleasant surprise or experimental disaster. Personally, I love film photography; just the concept of taking something old or vintage and using it in a new and inspiring way has always intrigued me. I’m one of those people that lives in 2015, but wishes I grew up in 1975; I’d rather use a instant or analog camera over a digital camera, and I enjoy listening to records instead of mp3s. Yes, to say the least, I shouldn’t have been born in this century. Likewise, this section of the book really made me think about this tangible quality in life that we have lost over the years because of digital technology. At least in this century, we have a choice to use either analog or digital, whereas before people had a more limited selection.

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