Libraries as ‘museums of marginalia’. Fascinating presentation by David Pearson, Director of Culture, Heritage and Libraries for the City of London Corporation about how marginalia shifts something that is more or less anonymous (my words) into an artefact of value. (Reminds me of an old project by computer scientist and ethnographer Cathy Marshall where she made a prototype annotation program for a laptop, her method involved buying heavily annotated second hand editions of text books at university book stores, and interviewing their purchasers, to model existing annotation practices. Was a seriously cool prototype, which, of course, went nowhere back then.) In relation to the Circus Oz living archive project this, for me, is highly suggestive as it is what we have been building. Which then begs the question of to what extent it is an archive, a library, or some intriguing emergent hybrid: an archary or libchive perhaps?Tags: computinghumanities, Network Literacy, practice
Recording media, all recording media, as sampling machines. A camera takes a single sample, of a more or less contracted instant. A film camera takes 24 visual samples per second. An analog sound recorder makes a continuous sample of a microphone’s diaphragm, a digital sound recorder samples 44,100 times per second (that just does my head in), while with digital video we measure sampling usually, like the film camera, in terms of frame rate.
In all cases the technology of recording is indifferent to what it records. A camera, microphone, film stock, SD card, or lens doesn’t get more interested because something exciting is happening. The operator might, or indeed does and that is why the recording machine is turned on to sample in the first case. But the technology itself, the machine, just samples, usually strictly and regularly.
I am using this as a basis for a new small speculative project. Each morning, somewhere around 7am, I stand at the same point in my front yard and film the ridge over the way. I am using vine because while it records H.264 compliant video at 30 frames per second (so a specified sampling rate) it imposes a second order sampling constraint where each clip is limited to six seconds. I am, in this project, turning myself + Vine into a sampling machine where the sample happens at a specific time – 7am daily, and is geo constrained (if I’m not at home a sample will not be made).
The project, tentatively and imaginatively called “sometime around 7am”, is a digital video materialist poetics where I am become a sampling relay and instantiate the same sampling role as a media recording machine. The time frame is enlarged (six seconds every 24 hours or so), but that just shifts it from the mechanical, to the digital, to the human.Tags: practice, softvideo, video
As we near the end of another semester of a subject that revolves around network literacies, online video, multilinearity, and, well, making as strange as I can the world for some students, I read the usual (and inevitable) complaints about Korsakow. Why use it? Why use something that isn’t ‘industry standard’? Why use something we won’t use again?
Some Quick Answers
- In an emerging field (new media, internet practice, network specific media practice – that isn’t merely naive) that is being invented and debated while we teach, what, exactly, could ‘industry standard’ actually mean?
- If you want merely industry standard (an industry by the way that is throwing money every which way as it tries to figure out how to save itself in the face of fundamental change to media making, consumption, use, the audience, advertising, that is, the way it was) then you’re confusing technical education with university (this is as much the fault of the university as anybody else’s as we trumpet ‘industry ready’, ‘real world relevance’, and ‘work integrated learning (which regularly risks being a fancy term for work experience like you might have done in High School) as our features).
- Experimental practice often uses experimental methods, which often needs experimental tools
- It’s cheap
- It’s really easy to learn so we can spend weeks thinking about multilinear structure, design, and experience, and not weeks learning How to write a script so a bloody button can change colour because someone clicked on it
- Network specific practice, that is making in the network rather than making off it and using it merely as a mute publishing vehicle, is about relational media
- And Korsakow is very good for learning about relational media
- Ever tried a new food? Drink? Experiernce? Didn’t like it? Does that mean you won’t try a new taste, drink, experience ever again? I’m serious, what’s with a culture that on the one hand embraces the ephemeral and transitory, yet can’t see value in just playing with something just for the experiment of playing with it?
That’s enough for now. This year though, for the first time, I’ve realised that by the end of semester most of these questions dressed up as complaints, well, no, they’re complaints masquerading as questions, that most of these complaints come from the students who haven’t come to the lectures and often not the labs. Those that come, the questions stop. (This could be because they just give up in the face of my stubbornness, which would well be the case.)Tags: Korsakow, pedagogy, practice
Documentary, like design, is a future orientated practice. It’s intent, even when dealing with ‘history’, is to effect change ahead of itself. As a result of this documentary as form (what it looks like) and practice (how it is made) has in general always been more innovative and experimental than fiction. I think for this reason, as film making catches up to what we can now do online, all the big changes are happening in documentary rather than fiction. For example there is the idoc project out of Britain, the Open Documentary Lab at MIT, and the IDFA Documentary Lab (Netherlands). Then there are the recent rise of new tools, including new versions of Korsakow in the offing, as well as popcorn, Klynt, Zeega, and W3Doc. So these are all new, but they definitely show that this field is about to take off, so something small scale and personal, such as Korsakow, is a good entrée to this stuff. This is also why we’ve worked predominantly in nonfiction. Nonfiction (documentary) is where this stuff is really gaining purchase.Tags: documentary, practice, softvideo
I have a book chapter that is due at the end of this month. I had originally proposed to write it around wondering what ‘social video is’. Something I’ve been wanting and meaning to write for a couple of years and this was an opportunity to do it. Then things changed a bit, partly because the chapter was to be a conference presentation and so on, and so I wanted to write it around another idea I’ve been mulling around relationality, archives, and assemblage. In other words I got bored with one and wanted to do the other. I hadn’t written the first, so really, until I got into it it really is a mistake to think there isn’t much there. (Often the sense that it is boring conceals the actual difficulty and significance of the work to be done.)
So late in the piece I sent through the new proposal, and it got the nod. Except it is late May and the chapter is due at the end of May. At times like this the stress and anxiety of having to start, and finish, work that is going to end up in a book is very high. So I then invent other ways of not starting. It doesn’t take much. Then, at some moment, I realise that I have to do it, that after years of repeating this cycle (where I also know that once I start writing it will generally go quite well) I really have to take some responsibility for myself. So I start. I just begin writing, and then in [Scrivener](http://literatureandlatte.com/) put in the target (7000 words), and give myself until the end of the first week of June to finish, and let Scrivener work out the rest. 400 words a day, that’s it. The relief is enormous, particularly when I realise that I’ve already written 500 words in a couple of sessions.
On the other hand, once the editors said yes to my new proposal, all of a sudden the original one looked interesting again. Something here perhaps about the grass always being greener? Also about one of the methods I use to not actually do something? Perhaps. Probably.
Things to notice here.
* I granted myself a short extension. Because I know the editors will nod their heads, I know that others will be late (academics who submit work on time are less common than those who will be late), I know that if I ask for the time they will give it as editors much prefer knowing that it is coming rather than wondering where it has got to, and that they also said yes quite late in the piece.
* That I procrastinated, deferred, and that the longer this went on for the more extreme the anxiety (and guilt) became. It is easy for this to become debilitating (in my own case I once did this for a major anthology to the point where at the 11th hour I apologised and withdrew, I haven’t been asked again).
* That this anxiety is quite normal, and healthy, but if you leave it to grow it is not.
* That just breaking it down into smaller parts makes something big (bloody hell, 7000 word chapter, where to start, how), manageable and approachable.
* That you can imagine something isn’t worth doing, but the test is in doing it.
As you work up, remake, bend, stretch, scratch, scrape, rework, manipulate, wend, tear, rip, cut, glue, paste, sketch, and otherwise think through the making in the doing of a Korsakow film it is worth thinking about what the terms of this making consist of. For example if I were filming something the terms of my making might include:
- frame rate
- composition and framing
- movement (of camera, of subject, of lens via zooming)
- exposure contrast
- depth of field
These are the formal things I can use to make with, my palette if you like.
In a Korsakow film, a part from the actual video clips (which would of course include the list above), when I am designing the work I have:
- background (colour, photos, sounds)
For each of these the other terms generally apply. For example for the thumbnails that are used for navigation I can think about if they have sound, text, colour. What size should they be? This is the formal language of stuff I have to work with, and their various combinations – keeping in mind I can have different interfaces in the one project.
In addition, via keywords, I have clouds, connectors, and corridors. Clouds are clusters of dense interconnection. Connectors are those nodes that bridge between two or more clouds. Corridors are passages that I want to insist upon, for instance (and most commonly) the opening screen of many a Korsakow project. Clouds I take from Mark Bernstein’s ‘cycles’ (in his “The Patterns of Hypertext”), connectors I think I just grabbed then since the alliteration was nice, corridors I remember from something Anja Rau wrote way back in the early days describing parts of Mark Amerkia’s Grammatron.Tags: hypertext, softvideo
Good gig, good people:
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The Centre for Creative and Cultural Research is seeking two PhD students to join its new Flagship Program, Digital Treasures. The Digital Treasures program builds on our strengths in digital design and cultural heritage. Digitisation is transforming cultural collections into digital treasure-houses, and opening up new opportunities, and new challenges, in how we represent, access, and apply these collections. Our recent projects such as ManlyImages, Trove Mosaic, and Australian Prints and Printmaking provide a taste of what’s possible. Students in the program will work with staff including Mitchell Whitelaw, Ana Sanchez Laws, Sam Hinton and Stephen Barrass.