Sunday, January 13, 2013

Port Elizabeth

Yesterday I finally arrived in Port Elizabeth, settled in a postgraduate apartment of Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University.  This morning the sun rose very early. It was bright. Sky was clear. It was peaceful. I spent the morning reading a book Black and Blue. It is a very interesting critic essay.  All the thoughts are connected via images, still or moving. The author meanders one to another image and another thought seamlessly. It is impressive, her vast knowledge and insight.

In the afternoon I walked to the shopping mall in Summerstrand Village. On the way I saw a mongoose.  It didn't stand but run.  It was cute. Then, I continued to walk to the Boardwalk, an entertainment place with a casino, fountains, shops and restaurants. I had a can juice. Since I bought it in a restaurant, it was expensive. I thought it would be squeezed, but in a can. I walked on a pier. It was quite windy. I didn't reach the end. I walked back to the shopping mall to do grocery shopping. Then, I walked back to my apartment. I forgot her name. The woman who became a senior lecturer walked to my place with two African students. Lauri, who lives in the apartment #2, came, too. We introduced ourselves to the others, exchanging phone numbers. They all seemed to be friendly.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Products vs. Processes

I talked to Claudia about products vs. processes of participatory video. She talked about a video about Aboriginal kids in the context of HIV/AIDS. Putting one out to awake public awareness is important in this case. Some participatory videos produced by participants may not be understandable for public, although they may have personal values in terms of education, impact on life, etc. She also mentioned a project done with the youth in Vancouver. The professionals did editing the video in the workshop where the youth participated. Although it is questionable their participation in the making process, the youth played a major role in disseminating the polished product and the workshop experience influenced their life. Thus researching the long term impact of participation on the participants is valuable...

Monday, December 07, 2009

Ways of Seeing

Every exceptional work was the result of a prolonged successful struggle. Innumerable works involved no struggle. There were also prolonged yet unsuccessful struggles. --John Berger (p.110)

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

4 Divine Abidings

Breathing is the most common, but only one of 40 kinds of Samatha meditation methods. Among them, four divine abidings were introduced last night in my first meditation class.

First, Metta. It is loving kindness that begins toward myself and extends infinitely to all creatures.
Second, Karuna, compassion. It is recognizing and responding to human sufferings.
Third, Mudita, sympathetic joy. It is happiness for others' joy.
Lastly, Upekkha, equanimity. Detached from all the qualities of emotion mentioned above, one may identify each quality. It is an emotional composure.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tate Modern Art Museum

[Seated Figure, Francis Bacon, 1961]

[Summertime: Number 9A, Pollock, 1948]

Under "Summer Time: Number 9A" (Jackson Pollock) quoted was "It wasn't until the 1970s that they detected a subtle form of order within the natural world, called fractal. Fractals consist of patterns that recur at finer and finer magnifications. A small part of the structure looks very much like the whole" (Physicist Richard Taylor)
--perhaps we may presume a systematic structure by looking the finest granularity of the ordinary.

[Women and Bird in the Moonlight, Miró, 1949]

Joan Miró's approach to sculpture: he collected insignificant objects such as pebbles or pieces of wood, then combined them with old tools, such as nails or broken bottles that he found by chance. He called this practice "the unlikely marriage of recognizable forms."
--unexpected yet well-suitable combination of things.

Arte Povera ("Poor Art"):Plistoletto, Boetti and Fabro.
This movement began in the early 1970s, using traditional materials such as greek marble, bronze, embroidery, etc. to address contemporary experience. They often outsourced fabrication. In other words, the artists' own touch was no longer central to their final work. For instance, (I think Fabro) a Venus statue stacked with old clothes.

Friday, August 21, 2009

"La vie et la mort se fondent ensemble et il n’y a pas d’évolution ni de destination, il n’y a que ETRE.” -- Albert Einstein

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rachel Barton Pine

Last night I went to the Opera night at the Montreal Chamber Music Festival. Unexpectedly I heard wonderful violin music there. Although I heard about her story before, I wasn't able to remember her name. She was the violin player who was seriously injured in a train accident. She played so wonderfully Carmen Fantasy, Op.25, by Sarasate as to make me cry. Extremely controlling every single note, she compelled me, if not all in the concert hall. It was beautiful and powerful.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Media Literacy in Cinematic Society

This is going to be my last blog entry for this course. It seems that we jump over a variety of topics for three months in a congested classroom. The media literacy in this class has been like cultural studies. In this criticism about media-saturated society, Denzin says we inhibit a secondhand world that is mediated by cinema, television and calls it ‘cinematic society’. He continues to say that we have no direct access to the world, thus experiencing only its representations. It sounds very postmodern. Fragmented experiences with media constitute a reality in a sense that we make a sense out of the experiences. These experiences may not be congruent with one another and elicit our reflection in fluidity. If so, it is safe to say that media literacy takes another form of cultural studies.

Along with this course, I also taught two lab sessions of an undergraduate course. Teaching this course based on a Do-It-Yourself ethic was very enjoyable and rewarding. In particular, this is my first experience to teach at a university for a long period of time. Meeting fifty students once a week did not give me enough time to get to know individuals. But these students also had the same assignment of weekly blogging and I tried to incorporate most teaching/learning materials into the blog, so by reading their assignments and blog entries, I was able to build each character in the end of the semester. We did not have much time to discuss media related issues unlike this course, but I hope that these students came to understand our culture tangibly. I am happy to have had these two courses in parallel this semester.

How we learn through collaborative media production

Recently my head spins around how we learn when members of a community participate and collaborate to produce a collective media project. I attempt to break down into two fundamental different modes of knowledge production.

First a new level of knowledge can be obtained by juxtaposing individual knowledge or experience with one another or putting them altogether. A video made by community members in New Orleans is a good example. A member in the video shows a big list where all the people in the city were murdered are written since January 2007. The list itself is a kind of collaborative media project that brings dispersed experience/knowledge together and the video disseminates the collective knowledge created through the list-making project. This is a powerful process of collective knowledge production.

The second mode I intend to formulate takes the opposite direction in a sense. In this mode, new knowledge can be produced by turning the familiar into the unfamiliar. In other words, by recontextualizing common knowledge, we may see the familiar domain from a different angle and learn a new level of the common knowledge. One example is found in a participatory video made by youth groups in South Africa. In their discussion, they already knew that gender violence was the most problematic at school and decided to make a video on the topic. In this case, they did not learn a new fact by making the video, but instead they saw the fact in a new way and possibly a more action-provocative way.

The two modes, despite the differences between each other, remind me of Brecht’s distancing effect. He defines this effect as a theoretical or cinematic device that keeps audience’s critical consciousness by preventing them from being involved with actors and actions that takes place on the stage or on the screen. I need some deeper thought to articulate this effect in relation to the two ways of learning mumbled above.

Freedom Writers

Directed by Richard LaGravenese (2007)

It is based on a true story, but why do I feel it is more fiction-like than Entre les murs, which is based on a fiction novel.

I think, first of all, it is because the screenplay follows a Hollywood convention with successive pauses for catharsis effect, which made me so emotional each time. This is a common device utilized in feel-so-good movies. In addition, the teacher in the movie never gives up her belief and succeeds in all her attempts. This factor provides the movie with a strong backbone that extends to the end of the movie. The teacher is a heroine evidently. Yes, it is true that the story itself is extremely compelling and what she did is highly remarkable in the real life. But in comparison to The Class (Entre les murs, 2008), I ask why remarkable stories are predominantly made in this movie industry. I think this is the basic mechanism in which Hollywood movies, in particular, is made. It fabricates reviewers’ dreams of wishing to see the heroes win and resolve the problems. This is a tool for manufacturing fantasy. Probably that’s why I conceive this fabulous movie a fiction film as others produced in Hollywood.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Give Peace a Chance!

This afternoon I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see the exhibition, Imagine, that was prepared to celebrate the 40th John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s famous Bed-in in Montreal in 1969. They did this performance during their honeymoon. Expecting intensive media attention, they wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to promote world peace, so they began this Bed-in performance in Amsterdam for a week. Then, they planned to go to New York, but Lennon’s entry was denied because of his drug conviction record, so flew to Bahamas. After spending one night in the heat, they flew again to Montreal. So, it seems that they happened to have the second Bed-in performance in Montreal by chance.

It appeared that they received sufficient media attention. I wonder whether the media was disappointed that they were wearing pajamas all the time in their bed. This performance, in particular, was done after their sensational nude album jacket was released and Ono’s groundbreaking conceptual art had drawn much media attention. Probably the media groups were expecting another shocking performance, but it didn’t happen.

I appreciate their deep thought and sacrificing their private moments for public good. But I feel uneasy with the performance. If I had watched that performance for two weeks when they were talking and playing in a luxurious hotel room, I might have been nauseated. Did it really call for the peace in the world? Obviously this peace was meant against the Vietnam War. I wonder whether this performance impacted any and if so, how. Can peace be obtained that easily? I can’t get away from the idea of media game in thinking of the Bed-in performance.