Sunday, December 14, 2008

Academic Plan and Testament

The Understanding Media class has been both a challenging and enlightening experience in the sense that I believe that not only it’s content, but it’s form of pedagogy has given me a sense of the ways that both my education and my work will, by necessity, need to progress. The “multi-platform” arena and it’s networked modalities that we find ourselves in is being both celebrated and condemned, both “cyber-triumphalism” and cautionary tales abound. as we grapple with the implications and overall affect. Whether this digital paradigmatic leap spells the beginning of some “technopolitcal” (to use the term coined by Neil Postman) post-human endgame or rather some evolutionary leap into a truly “human” collective and integral experience is, I believe, “both in our stars and in ourselves.”.
Like any other “critical juncture” like the one that Robert Mcchesney has discerned in our present condition, it is the “parts”, the hearts and minds of individuals, that will constitute the character of the whole.

The most important element of that character will not be what we become as some static, concrete facticity, always subject to equivocation and disproof, but the multi-valent language of self and other-awareness that we bring to our relationships with each other, the notion of time as history and that of the superstructure-whether one calls it the “void” or the pleroma, nature or God, immanence or transcendence.. We should hope that the phonology that the Mcluhaneque “message” of our new media will employ will find the metaphors and symbols needed to play past these oppositions and inform a collective consciousness that will find the demarcation of “self” and “other” increasingly inconsequential.
The literature review that I embarked upon started initially as an attempt to position the ideas that I was attempting to articulate in my film work within a conceptual framework of preexisting thought and scholarship. Along the way, I became forced to recast many of those initial ideas along different axes, not necessarily to cast all of them aside but to reanimate them in a dialogic fashion. Showing the film in a focus group for my “Research Methods for Media Activism” class allowed me to both galvanize some of my intuitions and to call others into questions. What tools do I have to articulate my experience? What tools do I need ? What new tools do others have to offer me? In my intellectual autobiography , I spoke about that bewildered astonishment at witnessing the film 2001: A Space Odyssey as a child. Tom Gunning has written about that aesthetic of astonishment in cinema’s own childhood. Will the holistic gestalt of the new media engender new forms of this astonishment? Is the “myth of total cinema” that Bazin felt had yet to be invented on the verge of arriving?

I see two paths that may ultimately be intertwined-a plane of solipsistic, alienated monads that are forced into a penultimate confrontation with consciousness itself and a global artist’s collective “crafting” in the substance of pure thought, lifting each other upward along a lattice without a summit. My mission statement continues to be one of the “voyager”, or the pilgrim, Derrida’s “Maran” both of the world but not wholly in it or Kierkegaard’s “Knight of Faith” . I will be taking Kit Laybourne’s Media Practice’s Concepts” class in the Spring to continue to enhance and collect more digital tools to find new modalities like Dreamweaver, Illustrator and Maya in order to articulate representations of what it’s like to be “straddling worlds”, to lose and to find one’s “self”. Ultimately, I hope to get a sense as to how different tools can be combined in order to render complex feelings and ideas of which I seem to be forever merely scratching the surface in expressing. But, also, I must forever stay cognizant and critical of the limitations and homogenizing elements of these tools. There are also the attendant practical concerns of enhancing my marketable skills in regards to the production industry.
I will also be taking Capignano’s Fundamentals of the Sociology of the Media Seminar. Since my most recent documentary film work-has specifically focused upon the ways in which corporate culture has influenced both our exterior and interior “landscapes” and the ways in which these apparatus become increasingly interlocked, invisible and contiguous in our daily lives I feel that it is important to avail myself of a sustained reading of it’s dynamics. I certainly resonate with Paolo’s conceptual framework and am also giving serious consideration to the Sociology Phd. as a possible future route.

I continue to be fueled and informed by political and social resistances that utilize form that recapitulate content. I am persistently drawn to aesthetic and film theory that attempts to readdress the ideas of social and spiritual change as a philosophical and formalist endeavor. I will be taking Spigland’s seminar on The Situationist International in the spring to become better informed as to radical political avant-gardism of the past and the theories behind it. As a filmmaker and media-producer in the 21st Century, what do they have to say to us? What gestures in these movements can be reinterpreted across new media? What strategies still speak to us today and which are anachronisms? What has worked in the past and what hasn’t ? Although I was torn between taking either this or Media and Critical Theory, I have some background in the Frankfurt School and wished to tread some new theoretical ground. I am also very intrigued with studying with a filmmaker informed by Lyotard and Derrida.

My future goals in the program involve acquiring more skill in the actual craft of generating images and having more control over them. I would really be interested in pursuing the Film Form route or at the very least the Cinematography class that is offered through the department. I am really dissatisfied with the aesthetic quality of my film and video work and would really like to get more control over my tools and options in generating images in terms of lighting, texture and depth. In terms of montage, I believe that the intellectual and spiritual aspects of it’s form are still in the nascent stage. Diverted to simplistic material dialectical terms, the potential for a great optic language as an instructor of consciousness have been sadly postponed. A heuristic psycho-technological language will evolve that will equip individuals with the building blocks to apprehend the paradoxical, existential nature of their own being and begin a journey not unlike that for which the Mareseilles Tarot or Kaballah stood as vehicles.

Cinema has waited patiently for man to make true and authentic use of it’s procedural referents. The time-image that Deleuze begins to chart will ultimately allow dialogues with the logoic nature of cosmic thought. Holographic terrains will serve the same purpose as the wafting vapors of the Eleusinian Mysteries. The sustained co-constitution and attention that certain tableaux will require will activate specific chakras. The MPAA’s restrictions will require accompaniment by certain types of Shamen and familiars. Tarkovsky , Ozu and Bresson were pioneers, but vehicles that will stay aloft for longer periods without crashing will soon come

Their will be “white magic” films that will counteract the deleterious insanity of the “black magic” of Hollywood. To view certain films may require prior fasting. War crime tribunals will preside over “psychic genocides” caused by certain media producers. The “network’ will act as a mirror to the unfinished nature of current human consciousness (to quote Eric Hoffer, "What monstrosities would walk the streets were some people's faces as unfinished as their minds.").

Shortened attention spans and media overload will lead to new paradigms of addiction and recovery, health and illness. I am using hyperbole, but the point that Mcluhan tries to make in quoting the Psalmist in 1962 was prescient and still informs us-“We become what we behold”.
For the near future I am committed to the idea of completing the degree with a full course load and doing a Senior Thesis project that would incorporate a long-form version of my current film project that properly articulates it’s conceptual framework with a research paper that would explicate it’s theories. The stressing of theory in conjunction with practice has been a good match for me and continues to inform my entire ethos. In addition, I wish to continue to avail myself of all that the university has to offer in the form of speakers activities and conferences. I have already had a lot of really enriching experiences in an (all too brief) semester. I joined the Critical Themes Conference committee, have seen such diverse speakers as Haskell Wexler and Michael Albert and worked on academic projects with people from around the globe. I really needed to push past my comfort zone in coming back to New York after all these years (I originally came as an undergraduate Trustee Scholar at NYU over twenty years ago), but it has been worth it at every step of the way. I wish to continue on this voyage and contribute to a discourse which is taking place on a world stage.

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