Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Situationist Project- Revising the City

This was a project that involved coming up with innovative initiatives to redesign aspects of the city along Situationist lines. Text and photos below.

“We must replace travel as an adjunct of work with travel as a pleasure.”
-Guy Debord
Situationist Thesis on Traffic

In lieu of the recent announcements of an upcoming price increase in the New York City public transportation system, I would suggest some provisional improvements in the infrastructure that would not only create a more entertaining, informative and aesthetically pleasing ambience but would also readdress the hierarchical nature of the museum locus, critique the recuperation of the urban milieu as a spectacularized theme-park and allow for a more open spatial discourse on late capitalism.
The subway line, at present, presents the rider with limited options as to possible vistas-the underground rider in particular is confronted with the banalized tiling and conduits that indoctrinate one into industrial repetition, consumption enticing billboards and wave after wave of stations whose purely utilitarian characteristics have impoverished reality. How much more enjoyable the ride would be if the tunnels were bedecked with great works of art-large scale canvases such as Picassso’s Guernica and the more lengthier canvases of Pollock would be superb. Taking it a step further, the more notable museums of the city could be demolished and rebuilt as long thin corridors running parallel to the track. Of course pedestrians would still be allowed admission if they agreed to step aside periodically in deference to passing trains..

But the entertainment and education of children would also be a concern. I would suggest that once the revolution has commandeered the Disney theme parks, that rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean and The Haunted Mansion be reassembled lengthwise along the track as a history lessons for children as to the exploitation of their ancestors by animatronic social engineering..

The elevated tracks, instead of being repetitively bombarded with the static scopic regime of mathematized high-finance, would be allowed to watch such works as Debord’s In Girum Imus on large screens. There would be optional buttons for riders to slow down the trains in order to peruse points of interest. With the abolition of wage labor, disagreements would be kept to a minimum since no one would be late in getting to work.

S.I.-Psychogeographic Map

Another assignment from the Situationist International Class-this one was a "Psychogeographic Map" of NYC. For those out of the loop, Psychogeography, as defined by wiki, is: "Psychogeography was defined in 1955 by Guy Debord as the "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals." Another definition is "a whole toy box full of playful, inventive strategies for exploring cities...just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape." The most important of these strategies is the dérive." I did an animation consisting of "futuristic utopias" of the past, quotes from S.I. writings and photoshop montages juxtapositioning S.I. aesthetic influences with our current predicaments. The score is an original song by my good friend, Steve Greitzer (a.k.a. Moonbase Alpha).

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Situationist International Class:Adopt-An-Executive

The fact that a university, even one with such a strong regard for Critical Theory and progressive social thought like The New School, would even offer a course based on the works of Guy Debord and the Situationist International is in itself a fairly extraordinary pushing of the limits of curricula into the truly radical. I had seen Debord referenced everywhere-from the Deleuzian Film Studies people to network and new media theorists to the lyrics of bands like The International Noise Conspiracy.When it was promoted in my Understanding Media class by Professor Shannon Mattern, I was nearly certain that I would enroll and ultimately did. Professor Ethan Spigland had studied with the likes of Derrida and Lyotard in Paris and also had a background in filmmaking. The class was certainly time well spent and Ethan has become my primary senior thesis adviser on the ongoing production of my film "Juggernaut". In the next couple of installments, I want to give a brief tour of some of the individual and group projects that were executed in the class. The first of note was a large ongoing group project that several of us embarked upon, a "situation" if you will, called the Adopt-An-Executive Campaign. In lieu of the recent financial crises and subsequent "bailouts", we thought that it would be funny to run a fundraising initiative for the recently "financially inconvenienced" retinue of CEO and other chief execs. It began with several "fundraising events" in Union Square Park and culminated in a website loaded with content

This was a truly prodigious project and hilarious. The group consisted of Juliana Pereira, Lauren Coakley, Noelia Santos, Alexandra Desousa and myself. Great job ladies! (The "adorable little kid" in the video is Alexandra's son-who did a great job. And yes, the redheaded guy is Carrottop.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Media Concepts- Media Scans

This was a mini-assignment for Media Practices-Concepts. Each student had to do a short presentation called a "Media Scan", presenting some aspect of media that was kind of cool, innovative, paradoxical or challenging in some thoughtful or emergent way. At the time that I was up, we were right in the middle of a slew of drawing assignments-so I decided to do a "scan" which consisted of a slideshow presentation of drawings and sketches from different artists throughout the ages-a little inspiration so to speak. Nuff said...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Photo Slideshow-"Mischievous"

This is the final Slideshow from "Four Approaches" called "Mischievous". It fell under the Discursive category-but was not shot to be such. Actually it's kind of forced and could have been great if I knew that I was doing it "when" I was doing it, if that makes any sense. It features my young cousins, Michael and Nicholas (who made me buy them banana splits in lieu of payment) and the score is from the brilliant Alan Hovhaness. Lights please!

Photo Slideshow-Arty / Intuitive

This was another mini-assignment from the "Slideshow-Four Approaches" assignment. I took it upon myself to combine the "Artsy/Designy" and "Intuitive" subgroups into one assignment (I figured-who would know?) . It's a reworking of some of the photos taken for the "Visitors" shoot. Kit Laybourne, the instructor, had alot of praise for this one (Kit , by the way, among numerous and sundry other accomplishments, was the former Creative Director at The Oxygen Network and author of the seminal "The Animation Book"-so true praise indeed...) The music, for anyone keeping score, is a rare b-side from the band Ultravox called "Dreams". Enjoy.

Photo Slideshow-"Visitors"

This is actually one part of an assignment-(once again Media Practices-Concepts) that actually involved four mini-projects. Here, the assisnment was to use a location as, in a sense, a "subject" and to portray that "subject" in four different approaches-Narrative, Discursive, Artsy/Designy and Intuitive using a series of photos. In my usual grandiosity, and being home on "spring break" with a surplus of time and energy-what initially started out as a "Photo Study" of my Aunt Louise and Uncle Ricky's farmland in the outskirts of Owego, N.Y. turned into this baroque atmospheric "ghost story" in the style of "Rural Gothic". It ultimately involved several different locations, including St. Peter and Paul Orthodox Church in Endicott, N.Y., props, characters and some Photoshop-ing. Entitled "Visitors"-the basic premise consisted of strange goings-on at a rural farmhouse that only the children were privy to (kind of within the whole "Children of the Corn". "The Other' and "Village of the Damned" school, but not quite). The grandfather "picks up" on it and decides to take, shall we say, remediative action...
I just wanted to put a special thanks here that I lazilly and typically left out of the final credits. Special Thanks (in no particular order) go to My Aunt Louise and Uncle Ricky Wasyln, their nephews (my cousins) Michael and Nicholas Wasyln, Peter Hovencamp, Father Stavros Lever, Gregory Harris, Boneless Beef and Alan Polyniak (who, believe it or not, had been the editor on the Troma classic film "The Toxic Avenger" and decided to come and bring his expertise out for one of the days.) Thanks all!!! (For the discerning, retro-80's music scholar- yes, that is the opening bars of the song "The Storm" by the superlative band Big Country.)

Makeovers and "Incriminating Evidence"

Once again some posts and assorted labors from Kit Laybourne's Media Concepts Class. Here we delve into the amazing bottomless levels and interactions between Illustrator and Photoshop. First off was an assigment entitled "Incriminating Evidence'-here the idea was to work with the compositing and blending elements of the software to create some funny or ironic (or just plain profound) juxtapositions and to start learning how to "cover one's tracks" so to speak. If you'll notice, I used the elements from my "still life" and worked them into a cityscape that stands right outside The Lincoln Center Walter Reade Theater-where I had just finished viewing Guy Debord's rediscovered Situationist Film- "In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni" for my Situationist Class (but will get back to that).

The other part of this particular assignment consisted of photo-makeovers. We were instructed to take a pre-existing photo of ourselves and "embellish' it in four different ways either to emphasize eith a design or sequential element. I decided to build a sequence in which my "environment" get increasingly ethereal and populated by
ghosts, mists, and what not. To quote the great Roky Erikson-"If you have ghosts than you have everything."

And then, my grandiosity got the best of me and I trekked over to the Met and was absolutely aghast when they said "C'mon in we just had a wall open up". Me lie?!

New Logo-See Above

If you notice at the top of the page, there's a new logo. Far from putting me into the ranks of guys like Neville Brody and David Carson, it is nonetheless, I think, pretty good. Once again part of an assignment for Media Practices Concepts-it was the product of my first foray into Adobe lllustrator (which, I might add, has a BEAR of a learning curve)-the logo actually uses the typeface that appears in my documentary work-in-progress "Juggernaut" and is a variation on the IBM corporate-logo typeface (IBM is a "corporate citizen' that plays a major, if not always flattering, role in the film). The surfaces are actually composed of a "swatch" that was pulled from one of the historic black and white photos that are used in the documentary.

Digital Storytelling Final Project

Alas, it is the rapidly approaching end to my first year in Grad School. Instead of getting sentimental or blasting Alice Cooper's "Schools Out" from a huge boom-box from the back of the bus, I figured I'd post some of the work that I actually accomplished in the midst of rainy and cold commutes, various bad take-out food and utter economic precarity. Instead of boring you with the dense pedantry of ton's of written work (which you can find in some of the earlier posts). I thought I'd stay snappy and designy and guaged toward the a/v components of the semester. First off-my final project in Kit Laybourne's Media Practices Concepts Class- An assignment entitled Digital Storytelling Project. This was an intensive project in which we "pitched" ideas to the class that revolved around those "often-told" anecdotal tales from the mosaic of our respective lives-you know, those ironic, gotcha, funny and tear jerking event and contingency tales. We brought in three different "pitches" and the class voted on which one they liked best as well as giving critical input. I decided to go with a story of how I had contracted viral meningitis on what was supposed to have been my first day of Kindergarten-as a working title I was stuck with the schmaltzy "Sepetember Passage" but there's really no title at all.