You Are The Universe Experiencing Itself

I have been reading into the idea of consciousness in recent weeks. The above photo, retweeted by William Gibson (@GreatDismal) on May 23, reminded me alot of an idea in which philosopher Alan Watts brought to my attention. His philosophy, which is now widely written about by various people, states that ‘you are the universe experincing itself’. 

My Cine-Roman project reflects this notion. The calm movement between images reminds the viewer that the movement between each image and the movement of thought inside their brain are two expressions of the same thing. The separation between nature and ones self is a consequence of simply a labeling process. Just like what exists in nature, the human body is a living organism. The built up sounds of city cars and sirens is symbolic of how humans have made life more difficult with our ever growing technologies, which are ironically designed to make our lives easier. The contrast between the images and sounds are to remind the viewer of this. The use of naturalist Sir David Attenborough’s voice reminds viewers that we are just ‘a gateway between the universal and the microscopic’. This project is to bring this notion forward to viewers attention. To embrace nature, to think about the nature of the human body, the human brain, and consciousness.

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Plastic Euphoria

IMG_2157  IMG_2289 IMG_2258  IMG_2077IMG_2225  IMG_2146

In this photoset I have explored the concept of ordinary objects existing as perplexing and uncanny landscapes. The soft, muted colours were achieved by experimenting with the natural lighting of the sun, as well as with coloured, artificial lights. The contrast of harsh and delicate lines within the photos give the viewer a sense of disorientation, as if the crumpled plastic is a scenery much bigger than in reality. As a part of my research I looked into the works of artists Danny Lassman and Vilde Rolfsen who have photographed plastic, as well as a variety of other uncanny and interesting objects, in a similar way. They work with lighting, camera angles, and camera settings to achieve a fascinating perspective not usually visible with human eyes. I used the manual settings on my Cannon 600D camera, adjusting the shutter speed, ISO and aperture differently for each scene.

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MEDA101 Sound Project

I designed my sound clip to be slightly  kaleidoscopic, with different aspects for the listener to consider. This jumbled concoction of sound conveys the idea of authority being everywhere around us. We cannot control it, nor escape it. A clip from one of Hitlers infamous speeches, which translates to ‘you mustn’t act yourself, you must obey, you must give in’, is juxtaposed with sounds I am used to hearing, as are most university students. The sound of an (anonymous) lecturer’s voice is used to highlight the institutionalised nature of university, along with the sounds of robot voices, money, eftpos machines, and breathing highlighting the restricted nature of life itself. The contrast between all of these featured sounds makes the listener compare the authorities we experience today to those dystopian authorities of the past, causing the listener to question just how restricted we are in how we live our lives. 

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American remakes of British TV shows… No.

If theres one thing I know, it’s the fact that Americans generally make British TV shows shit. I don’t know what it is… American TV shows in general (Friends, The Simpsons, How I Met Your Mother, The Walking Dead) are awesome. However, every time they try to remake a show that was originally made for/by the Brits, they have a bad habit of making it dreadful! Perfect examples for this is Skins, The Inbetweeners (both cancelled after one series), The IT Crowd (cancelled after one episode), The Office, and Sherlock Holmes (remade into elementary).

So, why is this? It’s no doubt that Americans have the ability to make awesome shows… so why doesn’t this extend to their remakes? For me, it is because of the extent that the ‘remake’ goes to. There is a difference between a direct copy of, e.g. skins- same plot line and almost the same dialogue with different settings and actors, which is extremely boring if you’ve already seen the British version, and remaking something with a little bit of customisation, e.g. sherlock holmes into elementary and The office. These 2 have a slightly different plot line, different humour, and different styles, therefor they translate to their different audience much much better in comparison. However, they are still not the best. Maybe I’m just not a huge fan of using somebody else’s idea, I never have been. In terms of any media: movies, music, and TV shows alike, I feel as though the originals should stay the originals and people should make their own media instead of using other people’s (with the exceptions of some musical covers- they have potential to be awesome).

So, in conclusion, Americans should stop trying to remake British TV shows and stick to making their own.

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The projection and perceptions of Muslim & Arab culture in the media

Professor Ellen Seiter’s, study on film viewing across cultures has made me think about the topic further, analysing my personal opinion on the way in which different cultures, particularly Arabic cultures, are perceived. Ellen is a professor at the School of Cinema-Television at USC (University of Southern California), and in her research has looked at ‘how film interpretation shapes the perception of culture’, and also how ‘those interpretations may change based on the conversations and discussions with one another’ throughout the course of the research project.

However, the branch of this topic that I am more interested in is how the media, in terms of the news we watch (particularly in Australia) portrays muslims and those of Arabic backgrounds. A student in Ellen’s ‘Projecting Culture’ research video puts this in words perfectly.

‘Theres thousands of hours of news around the globe, but they only show you, what, 20 minutes? And, what 20 minutes are they even going to show you? You have 50, 100, 200, even 1000 people attacking embassies, but theres a billion muslims in the world, I mean, percentage wise, it’s nothing. But then you see the 1000 people that are doing something violent, and then all of a sudden, all muslims are violent.’

This portrays the idea of the bias that is present in our media and news today. Media giants only show what they want to show, or what is worthy of showing. Therefor, all we see of these cultures is the negatives, and the violent nature that a small percentage of them may have. This makes people generalise people of these cultures to have a violent nature, when in fact, not all of them are violent. Muslims, Arabics, and any generalised cultures for that matter are often the most kind hearted people of all, it is the exceptions that are portrayed to us in our media and news today.

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Reference List:

Seiter, E 2008, Projecting Culture: Perceptions of Arab & American Films, Youtube video, 26 February, Research Channel, veiwed 10 October 2014, <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fmd4cUY7g-s&gt;

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Climate change: The false balance of voices in the media

Throughout the course of the Media and Communications component of my degree, it has come to my attention that the media is.. shock horror.. not as reliable, honest and unbiased as we (members of society and the public) want it to be. It has absolutely blown me away to which extent this bias exists. Our image of the world, and the information we know about global issues is literally restricted and altered to what the government and various other groups want us to know. There could be SO much we don’t know about, simply because it has been suppressed by higher authorities. The thought of this makes me extremely angry.

This notion relates to basically any topic in the media today, however a huge issue which has been a victim of media bias and suppression is global warming, or climate change. Our planet is warming. Our climate is changing. Everybody knows this. However for some reason, the actually extent of this issue is not properly portrayed in our media today. Instead, the voices of politicians and business giants who have acts that are ruining our environment in their best interest, are portrayed in the media. The voices of those who actually have something good to say are suppressed, such as climate scientists and people who are pro-environmentalism.

This is referred to as ‘false balance’, which is referred to by Ward (2009) as ‘providing space disproportionate to its scientific credibility to perspectives running counter to what is now widely accepted as the ‘established’ scientific judgment’. He goes on to discuss how this can then turn into an issue of journalism ethics, asking ‘what then are the ethical responsibilities facing news reporters? Is it up to them to sustain the clarion call by way of front-page headlines and repeated broadcast ‘breaking news’ alerts, despite what some observers now dismiss as ‘climate fatigue’ on the parts of their already-harried audiences?’.

Ward’s opinions, explanation and discussion on the topic of false balance has made me think a lot. The audience of the media KNOW for a fact (well, most of them… lets hope so) that climate change is a real issue and it is a direct consequence of human activity. So why do we need to validate this with scientific proof for the public to believe it, or preferably, actually do something about it (something as simple as recycling or not buying non-environmentally friendly products). As an active member of society and somebody who is aware of the media’s false balance of voices, censorship and extreme bias, I feel as though it is up to us as individuals to seek out our own information. I am aware of the consequences of every action and buying decision I make as a consumer, and its impact on the environment, and am very cautious of this. It is sad that other people need a news headline, a magazine article or someone who is in the media to tell them to be aware of our extremely fragile environment. If everybody was aware and actually cared about our environment, maybe we wouldn’t be in the awkward position of the fast deterioration of out planet that we finding ourselves in right now.

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Reference List:

Ward, B 2009, ‘Journalism ethics and climate change reporting in a period of intense media uncertainty’, Ethics in science and environmental politics, vol. 9, no. 13-15, p. 14, viewed 7 October 2014, <https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/pluginfile.php/260152/mod_resource/content/1/Week%209_Ward.pdf&gt;

 

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The Australian film industry: Its success, its failure, and everything in-between

So it appears the Australian film industry is in a little bit of a pickle. In the beginning, we got on the film boat with the right foot forward. According to the Australian Government website we (probably?) produced the first ever full length feature film ‘The Story of The Kelly Gang’ in 1906. We have also had huge success with other movies in the past such as ‘Picnic at Hanging rock’ in 1975, ‘Gallipoli’ in 1981 and ‘The Rabbit Proof Fence’ in 2002 (Marks 2014). However, these movies were government funded through Screen Australia, which is now facing up to a 50% cut (Needham 2014). Now this is where we face our pickle. No funding, no movies. Therefor, the death of our film industry as we know it.

However, this cut in funding traces back to another underlying issue. Australian Film doesn’t make money. Why? People don’t seem to like Australian films. Why? Well, we don’t know. And this is where the use of qualitative research comes in. In order to make our film industry successful, we need to actually figure out why it is unsuccessful in the first place. I have been contemplating why this may be for the past few days, and can’t seem to come to any awesome ideas other than the fact that Australian films, most of the time, are pretty shit. Sorry to the Australian film enthusiasts reading…

In saying this, our film industry has recently produced a couple of hits, for example the movie ‘Australia’, in 2008 which produced over $37m in box office dollars, and ‘The Great Gatsby’ in 2013, producing over $27m in box office dollars (Screen Australia 2014). However, when looking at these few more recent successful Australian movies, as well as other more successful Australian movies mentioned on Screen Australia’s top 100 feature films of all time, there seems to be a correlation with the marketing of these films. As in, they are shoved in your face and down your throat and everywhere else possible until you feel guilty enough to go and support our good ol’ film industry.

This idea relates to the movie discussed in the lecture ‘These Final Hours’, and its apparent dismal performance for the film industry. Lets compare the marketing campaign for this with a movie like ‘Red Dog’. I feel as though I saw advertisements for Red Dog everywhere, and I don’t even go to the movies much. It had a marketing presence online, on TV, in the cinemas, and most places in-between. However, I had never even heard of These Final Hours until it was mentioned in our BCM240 lecture. I had no idea it existed, therefor I didn’t go and see it.

So, I’m just taking a little guess, but this may just possibly have something to do with it. So to relate this back to the topic of qualitative research, a strategy that focusses on the marketing of Australian Films could be helpful. This could be carried out through focus groups, online surveys, as well as mail surveys and take home surveys given to cinema attendees in both metropolitan and rural areas across the country. Rewards could be involved with the engagement in a focus group or the completion of a survey, and could include things such as buy one get one free at their local movie cinema, a free snack when they next attend the cinema, or vouchers for their local video retail outlet. Just to keep it all within the theme of the film industry.

This research strategy would include questions such as where they are likely to notice advertisements, which types catch their attention, which don’t, and why. Topics of themes portrayed in movies could also be covered, in order to not only figure out information about where our marketing is going wrong, but also what the actual filmmakers are doing wrong too. In figuring out the minds of the consumers, our film industry may just pull its way back up the successful film ladder. We may just be able to see ourselves out of this unfortunate pickle we have wound up in.

Reference List:

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Australian Government 2007, Film in Australia, Australian Government, accessed 29 September, <http://australia.gov.au/about-australia/australian-story/film-in-australia&gt;

Marks, K 2014, ’10 classic Australian Films that required government funding’, Guardian, 2 May, Viewed 29 September, <http://www.theguardian.com/film/australia-culture-blog/2014/may/02/10-classic-australian-films-that-required-government-funding&gt;

Needham, A 2014, ‘Cutting film funding would send us back to the stone age, says producer’, Guardian, 2 May, viewed 29 September, <http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/02/cutting-film-funding-would-take-us-back-to-the-stone-age-says-producer&gt;

Screen Australia, Top 100 Australian feature films of all time, ranked by total reported gross Australian box office as at January 2014, Australian Government, accessed 29 September, <http://www.screenaustralia.gov.au/research/statistics/mrboxaust.aspx&gt;

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The media & its influences: moral panics, social anxieties & audience regulation.

I have brushed over topics similar to this one in some of my previous blog posts last semester for BCM110. I discussed topics such as Miley Cyrus and the social anxieties surrounding her sexualisation in the media, and the image this portrays to her former child fans, as well as the TV show Breaking Bad and how some argue that it normalises drug use to the public. Both of these topics have caused moral panic in society, particularly for parents who are anxious about the influences that media like this can have on their children.

The idea of moral panic surrounding the media influences on children has become quite a prevalent idea, and is even discussed quite often in the media itself, particularly by the channel 10 network on their shows such as Studio 10 and the Project. I have discovered that the way we go about these media anxieties is in a very strange and ironic way. These moral panics of how the media effects and influences society are discussed by those who are employed by the big media giants (e.g. channel 10, 9, 7, ABC etc- most of which are owned by the government or rich individuals and subject to bias), through the media. It is kind of a bit of a vicious cycle!

In terms of people perceiving technology and the media through a dystopian lens, predicting the harmful effects it has on society, it will often go a little like this:

The media → anxieties about the medias effects → perceived need to regulate media use → audience research to prove we should be anxious, to prove we need regulations.

There have been anxieties about the media and its influences on society since way, way back. There was a push for cinema reform in 1916 (movies had been produced for 20 years already). The media was perceived as a threat, and this was the beginning of audience research as we know it. The Motion Picture Research Council began in the late 1920’s, seeking to lobby for social control over the movie industry. Since then there have keen countless audience studies, trying to measure the effects the media and technology has on individuals and society at large, concerning various different topics and target audiences.

Relating all of this back to my personal experiences, I have been thinking a bit lately about violent video games and the effect it has on our emotions and reactions to real life violence. My housemate has recently started playing COD (Call of Duty) again, and the violence in this game has come to my attention. However, I am absolutely torn about how I feel about it. Should violent games be regulated in how violent they can make them? Should there be more than an age limit restricting the purchase of these sorts of games? Games like these certainly do desensitise us to violence seen on screens, however, what about in real life? Does seeing this type of violence encourage people to be violent themselves? Does it make us react any differently to how we should to violence in real life? To answer this, I will leave you with a link to an article on phys.org, as well as an article by Time magazine, addressing these very questions. Comment your thoughts if you have anything to contribute to this tricky topic!

Reference List

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Bowles, K & Turnbull, S 2014, BCM240 Media Audience Place, 2014 lecture notes 15 September, University of Wollongong, Spring semester, 2014.

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Media multitasking & its effect on modern families and their social lives

“Those aged 8 to 18 spend more than 7.5 hours a day with such devices [smart phone, computer, television or other electronic device], compared with less than 6.5 hours five years ago, when the study was last conducted. And that does not count the 1.5 hours that youths spend texting, or the half-hour they talk on their cellphones. And because so many of them are multitasking — say, surfing the internet while listening to music — they pack on average nearly 11 hours of media content into that 7.5 hours.” -Tamar Lewin (NY Times), referring to research conducted in 2005 and in 2010 by the Kaiser Family Foundation (bare in mind, figures have probably risen again since 2010).

 

So here I am, sitting at Panizzi, drinking coffee, researching this very topic of media multitasking. I have 7 safari tabs, a one note window, and a powerpoint window open, whilst checking my phone constantly. I am not talking to anybody, yet I am surrounded by people (lets just say its because I don’t know anybody sitting near me). In this instance, along with in a lot of other instances, my technology has my full attention.

American linguistic anthropologist and director of UCLA’s Centre on Everyday Lives of Families, Elinor Ochs, is a person who has recently come to my attention during my research for this weeks topic. She (alongside Tamar Kremer-Sadlik as well as other contributors) recently carried out a 4 year study of 32 modern US families, looking at the ‘home, work, and relationships in middle-class Americans’. Their book, titled ‘Fast-Forward Family’, discusses the impact of technology in the Family environment, and also looks at the idea of multitasking gadgets.

A significant time of day that is discussed in this book is when the children and parents reunite again in the afternoon after school and work. ‘We saw that when the working parent comes through the door, the other spouse and the kids are so absorbed by what they’re doing that they don’t give the arriving parent the time of day’, says Ochs, also explaining, ‘we also saw how difficult it was to penetrate the chill’s universe’.  (cited by Wallis in TIME Magazine).

This is interesting, and extremely relevant to how media multitasking may cause us to become disconnected from one another. Wallis discusses the fact that media multitasking is not only a result of our attachment to our devices, but also because of our extremely busy schedules. She concludes her article with the idea of older generations teaching by example, and encouraging their kids and others of the younger generations to unplug from their devices, spend some time in the company of physical human beings, and to show them that theres life beyond the screen.

I agree with this completely, however people of this younger age must decide for themselves that taking a break, or cutting down on their media usage and amount of media multitasking is for the better. The quality of social interactions with both family and friends once you have cut out technology (usually) is of a much higher quality, and once generation M realises this, hopefully their hours of media usage per day may be reduced. Perhaps this won’t occur until they are older, but lets cross our fingers and toes that the figures above won’t further increase in the coming years.

Reference List

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The Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation, 2010, Generation M2: Media in the lives of 8-18 year olds, Kaiser Family Foundation, Washington D.C., <http://www.kff.org/entmedia/mh012010pkg.cfm&gt;

Lewin, Tamar 2010, ‘If you’re kids are awake, they’re probably online’, New York Times, 20 January, viewed 20 September, <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/20/education/20wired.html&gt;

Ochs, E & Kremer-Sadlik, T 2013, Fast forward family: home, work and relationships in middle class America, University of California Press, Berkeley, <http://site.ebrary.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/lib/uow/docDetail.action?docID=10631868&gt;

Willis, Claudia 2006, ‘The multitasking generation’, Time magazine, 19 March, viewed 20 September, <http://www.fritzhubbard.org/words/The_Multitasking_Generation.pdf&gt;

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Finding time to go to the movies… Harder than I thought.

3 weeks is how long it took me to finally get up and go and see a movie at the cinemas. I went to the good old Roxy Cinema Complex in Nowra, and saw a movie called ‘If I Stay’. I was accompanied by 2 good friends, one who conveniently works there (free popcorn and ticket, holla). Unfortunately, we were also accompanied by about 20 young girls, around the age of 14. We sat behind them, up the back of the tiny cinema, with one of their (what looked like) fathers over across the walkway next to us. At some stages of the movies it looked like he was more sad (I swear I saw him tearing up) than the group of young girls. Their annoying giggling and snickering during the kissing scenes of the movie made me want to yell, but we got through it. Of course the only movie I have gone to see in months has a cinema full of pre-pubescent girls. Sigh.

Torsten Hägerstrand was an urban planner who discussed the human constraints, and how they changed the way social planning works (1970). He wrote about 3 constraints in particular, including capability (can I get there?), coupling (can I get there at the right time?), and authority (am I allowed to be there?). These 3 human constraints relate to me and my movie cinema experience in many different ways.

Capability constraints refer to the limitations on human movement due to physical or biological factors. I experienced 3 weeks of capability constraints. I was unable to attend a viewing at the cinema because of other plans, being in the wrong area during times I could have gone, and having other things to do rather than seeing a movie. It was also difficult for everybody I had organised to go with to find a way to and from the movies efficiently.

Coupling constraints refer to the need to be in one particular place for a given length of time, often in interaction with other people. Time constraints like these also restricted when I could make it to the movies. It was extremely difficult to find a time that suited the 3 of us all. We ended up going on a saturday afternoon (3.55pm session). I picked up one of my friends after she finished work, and our other friend from the pub where he was with his family, then dropped them home afterwards. 

Authority constraints are an area that is controlled by certain people or institutions that set limits on its access to particular individuals or groups. If anything, I felt as though my small little group of 3 had the most authority out of anyone in the little realm of the cinema, because of the fact that one of us worked there. Although we had bought a ticket, just like everyone else, and we had just as much authority to be there as they did.

These 3 constraints are essentially what shaped my decision to not go for a cinema visit for so long, and also, at the same time, what shaped my decision to finally go (even though it was 3 weeks later… Sorry Sue…)

Reference List

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Torsten Hägerstrand 1970, ‘What about people in regional science?’, viewed 16 September 2014.

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