Monday, June 8, 2015

Thoughts on Montage, Larger Forces at Work

I made a short montage representing the fictitious leisurely activities of students at Lawrence University. Certeau said, “Today, it is no longer enough to manipulate, transport, and refine belief; its composition must be analyzed because people want to produce it artificially; commercial and political marketing studies are still making partial efforts in this direction. There are now too many things to believe and not enough credibility to go around.” I feel as though the art of montage can imbue a feeling, or a tone, more effectively and efficiently than many other mediums. Montage uses a sense of passing time coupled with images that, while alone, say something vague, but together, give a clear sense of the mood the creator is trying to give off. To induce an audience with this feeling is, in a sense, to “produce [belief] artificially”, as Certeau described. I believe that the motives of those who would wish to fabricate said beliefs range anywhere from innocent to malicious, but one can be sure that such unanalyzed beliefs permeate every aspect of our lives. Recognizing the inherent presence of these beliefs should come as especially important for my generation. Through social media we can create caricatured online profiles where we can selectively choose what the world will see of us. In the age where all the information we could ever need is beneath our fingertips, most – if not all – of what we believe is unquestioningly embraced. This is not to say that it is unwise to believe anything at all, only to question what one thinks – and why it is that one thinks that way.

With that said, watch my very own attempt at montage and try your best not to laugh at me.


Friday, May 22, 2015

De Certeau believed that: “All that is required is that the surveys ask not about what directly attaches its “members” to the party, but about what does not attract them…” (177). In other words, people may not know who they are – but they know who they are not. Call it selective memory, wishful thinking or delusions, in the end it comes down to belief. Belief – however justified – in self identity and in affiliations (to corporations, organizations or institutions etc…) are undoubtedly social constructs that reinforce (and perhaps even created in the first place) cultural norms, and they make clear distinctions as to who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. Pursuing a fading American Dream in Werner Herzog’s “Stroszek”, Bruno is an outsider (non-English speaking, mentally challenged man) travelling with outsiders (both foreign; a prostitute & a decrepit old man) through a land that is anything but conducive to escaping outsider life (November in central Wisconsin). They stick out like a sore thumb in the fabric of conventional self-realization stories; otherwise known as the Bildungsromane – which almost exclusively follow the (often) successful journey of the protagonist’s ascent to societal acceptance. Bruno and his companions don’t fit into American society. They are ostracized because they are outsiders, through and through. Come the end of ‘Stroszek’, the trio is split up, their trailer home – foreclosed on and auctioned off – and Bruno is more than likely dead. This seems to be the inevitable end for any of those who deviate; those who were unable to indoctrinate themselves with the condoned ideals & forms of larger society. Christopher McCandless, the protagonist of “Into the Wild”, met a similar fate when he fled from the society that rejected him. Conform to societies rules or meet your demise, seems to be the form that coming of age novels teach us. Keeping this in mind, though, gives beauty to the otherwise unglamorous trio and their journey. They are realistic and raw but simply could not exist in the world that would not accept them. To all the rest, life goes on. De Certeau describes their fate: “They bet on the erosion itself of every conviction, since these vestiges indicate both the ebbing-away of what those questioned formerly believed and the absence of a stronger credibility that draws them elsewhere: “voices” do not go away; they remain there; they lie inertly where they were, but nevertheless make up the same total. The toting up becomes a tale.” (178).

Sunday, May 10, 2015

It was a very interesting experience to learn about (Wisconsin resident (!)) Dick Blau’s photography. Through his photographs, he represented emotional complexity by portraying the ritually mundane. He brings into question our pre-conceived notions of childhood and, similarly, represents the discontent of adults who may have grown up too abruptly. Each of his subjects seem evidently plagued by deeply seated existential crises; their lives falling far short of the utopian visions they envisioned for themselves as children. Their reality is less appealing than their undead childhood dreams; leaving them near-lifeless. This was one of my favorites of Blau’s. The expression of the woman speaks worlds, and yet, seems completely vacant. To me, it is the quintessential example of Blau’s work.

Friday, April 24, 2015

From my position on my back in the corner of the classroom, I took in Lawton Hall’s presentation with a sense of appreciation. He is one of the few people I have met to have not only stayed in Wisconsin post Lawrence, but to also advocate staying here. I think he understands that this to do exciting and creative things here, one needs to take initiative; take the first step in creating what you want to see instead of waiting for chance to fly your way, like it might in a more populous area. I enjoyed this particularly because Wisconsin – Appleton especially – is an easy target for bashing amongst Lawrence kids. It seems like a universal conversation starter amongst the student body; whether it be a go-to if the conversation takes a turn for the dull, or a scapegoat if the clusterfuck of anxieties in ones life manifests itself as an aversion to Appleton. Either way, Appleton - and its offerings - are stepped on casually, liberally and happily. Beyond that, it gave me hope to see such a young alumni having the success he is so soon out of Lawrence. I though it was quite funny when I realized that many of his friends (those in ‘Holy Sheboygan’), were in fact my friends as well (Julia, Cameron and Cary). It made me start thinking of the projects I could do with the talent close to my life; with the friends around me now.

Monday, April 13, 2015

After several plans falling through and many shifts in topic, I decided to finally settle on representing the ritualistic act of walking to my mother’s house from my dormitory at Lawrence. As a 'townie', the divide between my hometown and my college experience has always been a thin one. I see there being advantages and disadvantages in this – namely showering in a place that doesn’t make me feel like I need flip-flops (and seeing my mother, of course).

The route that I take back to my home has been one that I've taken since attending Edison Elementary. It is ingrained in my memory and has become representative of the transition back to the familiarity of my childhood home. Feelings of warmth and nostalgia become stronger with every step I take. The walk itself is often times a blur. I have taken that exact route so many times that no trip stands out in particular. Especially today, the trip home delves my mind deep into a meditative state – as corny as it sounds – as I subconsciously prepare for the shifting of worlds, from the social world of college to the domestic world of my childhood home. I count my steps, notice minuscule changes in the scenery around me and enjoy the change in the seasons as they come. The walk goes from a task that needs to be dealt with, to a welcome respite from the menial chores of the day. In this sense, the walk from ‘home to home’ transcends the mundane, instead acting as a necessary, medicinal aspect of my day-to-day existence. 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Project no. 1 thoughts:

I recently put some time into thinking about the raw, honest wonder of children reacting to the world around them. In the process of growing up, there is no incentive to hold onto this simple fascination as societal pressures, worldly things and the passing of time begin to numb us into a sense of unquestioned monotony. I hope to capture this fleeting feeling using video of interaction of a friend of mine and his young daughter, whose curiosity about the world continually reminds me to appreciate small things.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015


n. the kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably—the hidden talents of friends and coworkers, the fleeting solos of subway buskers, the slapdash eloquence of anonymous users, the unseen portfolios of aspiring artists—which would be renowned as masterpieces if only they’d been appraised by the cartel of popular taste, who assume that brilliance is a rare and precious quality, accidentally overlooking buried jewels that may not be flawless but are still somehow perfect.