commlab: murch reading

i’m really enjoying these few chapters from walter murch’s blink of an eye (whole thing here).

in particular, the metaphor of footage as DNA:

“My point is that the information in the DNA can be seen as uncut film and the mysterious sequencing code as the editor. You could sit in one room with a pile of dailies and another editor could sit in the next room with exactly the same footage and both of you would make different films out of the same material.”

and also this note that more audio/video/cutting/mixing ≠ better audio/video/cutting/mixing:

“Terrible mixes have been produced from a hundred tracks. By the same token, wonderful mixes have been made from only three tracks… Frequently, it takes more work and discernment to figure out where not to cut.”

commlab: footage from chambers street station

we got some good audio and video from the chambers street station on friday. below is a short, voyeuristic clip from the top of the stairs; then, creepy subway sounds; then, a few stills. the lighting isn’t perfect, but i’m excited about what we got and looking forward to putting it all together.

our audio won’t be synced, so for a sense of what our final film will be like, mute the audio in the video clip below and play the separate subway audio with it instead.

monday, we’re meeting to collect interviews and get more shots of outdoor surveillance cameras.

chamber street eyes

surveillance camera

commlab: storyboarding a short film

dhruv, ann, and i are working together to produce a short piece about the chambers street station and post-9/11 surveillance. we’re using google docs to keep running notes with links to dropbox folders of footage we collect individually. this morning, we spent a few hours talking through our vision, cutting and pasting photos onto storyboard templates, and ultimately presenting our idea to the class.

storyboardin'

storyboardin’

storyboardin' some more

storyboardin’ some more

we got some good feedback and will start collecting video and audio this friday. we learned that it’s illegal to have a tripod in a new york subway, so we’re thinking through how to get footage down there. i think it will end up being a task for ann and me since dhruv is brown. hashtag making movies in a security state.

this is our to do list:

chambers st to do

chambers st to do

commlab: bike shop soundscape

jangle spoke single

jordan and i both bike a lot and love bike sounds, so we decided to do a bike soundscape and met at a shop in greenpoint last weekend to collect audio. we had:

  • a shotgun mic
  • a pair of fancy headphones
  • a pair of earbuds
  • a zoom recorder
  • 2 AA batteries
  • a bike shop full of bikes and tools and nice dudes

recording: delightful & surprising things

  • the sound of cloth on a rubber tire wheel
  • how eager bike shop people were to make cool sounds for us
  • how crisp our recordings were of taken-for-granted sounds like bells, locks locking, brakes braking, and chains jangling

recording: difficult things

recorder interface

  • the zoom recorder interface. there’s a lot of functionality packed into not that many buttons. in the daylight, we weren’t sure whether the MIC or REC lights were lit. did our recordings save? where’d they end up? were we listening to something old or recording something new? why were the right ear levels constant while the left ones were changing? gah!
  • knowing which settings to use from the MENU
  • motorcycles! and background noise in general.

piecing it all together

we were inspired by the video below to make something more musical and less linear. for folks without any prior logic x pro experience, i think we pulled off something pretty cool.

Bicycle Sounds from Stephen Meierding on Vimeo

comm lab: response to the ecstasy of influence, molotov man, & cardiff

The Ecstasy of Influence by Jonathan Lethem

on collaging and objects in/out of context:

“Heidegger believed that art had the great potential to reveal the “thingness” of objects…

The surrealists understood that photography and cinema could carry out this reanimating process automatically; the process of framing objects in a lens was often enough to create the charge they sought. Describing the effect, Walter Benjamin drew a comparison between the photographic apparatus and Freud’s psychoanalytic methods. Just as Freud’s theories “isolated and made analyzable things which had heretofore floated along unnoticed in the broad stream of perception,” the photographic apparatus focuses on “hidden details of familiar objects,” revealing “entirely new structural formations of the subject.””

on copyright:

“Rather, copyright is an ongoing social negotiation, tenuously forged, endlessly revised, and imperfect in its every incarnation…

Thomas Jefferson, for one, considered copyright a necessary evil: he favored providing just enough incentive to create, nothing more, and thereafter allowing ideas to flow freely, as nature intended.”

to which i’d add astra taylor’s comment from the people’s platform:

“Jefferson was, in Lewis Hyde’s words, “a commonwealth man” who made his invention available to all and promoted the progress of science over personal gain. But what open culture advocates fail to acknowledge, even in passing, is that Jefferson was able to distribute his ideas for free because other were working to feed his belly (in his case, slaves).”

there are some delicious ideas and sentences here: the recasting of “copyright” as government-granted “usemonopoly” is so good. and this description of market rhetoric, “a tide of alienation lapping daily at the dwindling redoubt of the unalienable.”

at the same time, this piece sets off some alarms for me. it touches on but mostly ignores the reality that “open culture” rhetoric exposes rather than protects small artists’ and makers’ creative practice by taking away their ability to make a living from their work through licensing fees. it feels a little like the way “free market” rhetoric sounds really good, even though it screws everyone who doesn’t get to determine which forces are “natural” market forces and which ones should be regulated (i.e., most of us).

starting from the position that we need something to ensure that small-scale makers get paid for their work, how do we decide who gets paid and how? if copyright laws are the answer, who is small enough that their contributions to a commons should be protected, who is contributing by drawing on others’ contributions, and who is simply using copyright regulations to profit from the hoarding of valuable information? if copyright laws are not the answer, how do we pay artists when we’re so accustomed to free content?

also, what of assholes like richard prince?

On the Rights of Molotov Man

context matters. my inclination is to side with susan meiselas, but mostly i’m grateful that harper’s exists to publish the dialogue.

Her Long Black Hair by Janet Cardiff

this is neat. a wonderful illustration of the power of sound to do stuff to space, to let you be in multiple places at once: central park in 2015 and central park in 1890.

i like the way cardiff asks you to keep pace with her as a way to keep you generally on the right track, since you’re not actually together and she can’t guide you in person.