education

CIM402.1 Community is a postmodern metanarrative & Do we consume media or decode it?

Community is a postmodern metanarrative

The show “Community” is built upon a typical US TV sitcom situation in which 7 unlikely students from a community college are drawn together into a study group that sets the scene for a repeating set of scenarios. From the outset the inclusion of a 7th member to the typical 6 person, 3 male, 3 female situation lends itself to the shows main focus Jeff, being left as the narrator or commentator of the situations which is where this show makes it first postmodern announcement. The pivotal character sets the tone of the show and allows for a sarcastic turn, starting to define a postmodern take on the usual sitcom situations that arise from the storyline.

The application of the term “meta” and the definition of the show as a postmodern metanarrative begins with the declaration that the show’s audience is educated enough to understand the concept of meta. The joke of the term “that’s so meta” takes on a sarcastic meaning in the show when applied to multiple mundane situations that the characters refer to as meta and in turn expresses an awareness of the term meta to the audience to get the joke. The term metanarrative is perhaps used in this situation to describe the standard base storylines of each episode, but then the ridiculous direction each of these easily predictable storylines take. The underlying storyline of each character as it progresses throughout the series takes on a developmental and different approach to the usual TV sitcom.

“They told very different over-arching stories of the progress of their research. Within each tradition, accounts of research depicted human characters emplotted in a story of (in the early stages) pioneering endeavor and (later) systematic puzzle-solving, variously embellished with scientific dramas, surprises and ‘twists in the plot’.” (“Storylines of research in diffusion of innovation: a meta-narrative approach to systematic review”, 2005)

The underlying storylines in the show Community are what provide this direction as a metanarrative. The narrative of the show is typical in its school location (‘Saved by the Bell’, ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ & ‘The Wonder Years’), but the bigger picture that the characters and storyline creates suggest a more relatable and connectable truth to the audience through their commentary on the situation, primarily through Jeff’s character. It suggests a drive towards the every city scenario of similar colleges and how these extreme sitcom scenarios are played out in less TV fashioned ways, but with similar experiences across the lives of college students.

The postmodernism of this show is only expressed in the following of typical US sitcom shows such as ‘Friends’ & ‘Roseanne’, Community is a giant postmodern joke on so many of the typical US sitcoms from the 90’s and 2000’s. Its sarcastic storylines and characters only work in the space of the post-sitcom scenario presented by these previous shows. Taking on situations that lend themselves to the typical scenario, but then applying a different direction and also running commentary on that scenario as it plays out in a less than usual fashion.

So the combination of the postmodern scenario and the metanarrative storylines in each episode and then in turn with the season progressions, the show itself becomes a joke and sets up its own demise as a series. Caught between being able to reset itself each season as a typical sitcom does and progressing to fill the metanarrative of the storylines, the show must come to an end and this in itself is discussed and commented on, also creating another postmodern take on the TV sitcom series.

Storylines of research in diffusion of innovation: a meta-narrative approach to systematic review. (2005, January 26). Retrieved October 25, 2017, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0277953604006471

Sheehan, Helena and Sweeney, Sheamus (2009) The wire and the world: narrative and metanarrative. Jump Cut, 51 (Spring 2009). ISSN 0146-5546

 

Do we consume media or decode it?

In Stuart Hall’s ‘ENCODING / DECODING’ he talks about how “reality exists outside of language, but we constantly mediated by and through language. What we know and say has to be produced through discourse.” The consumption of media is a misuse of the term consumption, media doesn’t become used up when we consume it, we take it in and although we pass it out, it isn’t consumed and it doesn’t go away. What we get out of it is related however to our perspective on how we view it. Entertainment media is typically used to distract and fill the void of time and thinking for most people, but even when we are just watching, we are still decoding the media we consume. The content affects us and changes our subconscious beliefs of what is possible and makes us think or at the very least believe that what we are seeing or hearing is possible.

The aspect of if we believe the media we are seeing or if we reject its content as possible is itself a form of decoding, we are not just consuming the content, but constantly processing its validity and meaning. Its meaning may not be obvious, but even when we think we are simply being entertained by color, light, and sound, it is being processed by our brains to serve a purpose to us. That purpose may be unconscious, but we are constantly taking in the world around us and when we view media, entertainment, informative or otherwise, we are still decoding its meaning or processing the images and sound for decoding at a later stage.

It is perhaps not just the delivery or distribution of the media that changes our thoughts, but our interaction with the media as we reproduce it to our friends, peers and even our own selves in dreams or unconscious thoughts that allows this decoding. Not thinking at all about the media we consume is a difficult line to take, switching off completely with sound and images coming into our senses is not possible as we have been wired to be aware of our senses for survival. Some forms of true meditation can occur when our subconscious is let to flow, even in the presence of auditory and visual stimulation, but that conscious flow of thoughts is still relying on the decoding of the world around us to put itself in the place of physical safety.

When we take in media, we are always decoding it. Though it may not be thoughtful and meaningful analysis, it is still being processed and affecting our sense of reality. We usually put ourselves and the media in its context before and while consuming and this can define how much we are aware of the media and how much we can choose to ignore its true meaning. Popular entertainment, when considered and believed to be simply for entertainment purposes, is perhaps not given the same gravity as news media when we consume it, but it is affecting our vocabulary and discourse with the world when we view it. Simply not decoding and only consuming is not an option for a functioning conscious human brain.

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CIM401.1 Experimental Project Report

https://verse.com/video/4465-guy-cooper-cim401-1-experimentation/

Please visit the link above to view the video presentation. I have also provided a text version below if any of the voices are annoying or difficult to understand, the links from the video are also available below, as are the references, enjoy 🙂

Guy

CIM401.1
Research Report
Guy Cooper
00015

What is being experimental? Is there anything in art that is truly unique and new to everyone and does that define what experimentation is all about? Is doing something new and unexplored enough to be considered an experiment or is there a deeper discussion that needs to take place in order for a project to be considered truly experimental?

A process is considered an experiment when the outcome has yet to be tested and proven, taking a path that is yet to have a defined outcome. In the arts, perhaps is yet to have a place and purpose in its chosen field.

In music, it is said that.

“Being an experimental artist often means that your music challenges listeners. It’s a beautiful artform where you imagine what hasn’t been done – you explore areas that aren’t traditionally “safe.” In music, and all arts, avant-garde artists are the ones who end up making new genres and creating new movements.”[1]

Part of the experimental process requires you to use your imagination and explore possibilities of things that have yet to be, deliberately moving towards areas that are traditionally unsafe and attempting to challenge the audience into rethinking the concept, field or genre of what they are experiencing. Being experimental and innovative can also be doing something unfamiliar with older familiar things. Taking a well-defined existing process or product and changing the purpose or delivery, innovating with an existing topic and challenging how it is perceived.

“Innovation does not necessarily mean something new. It means doing something unfamiliar, often with old familiar things.”[2]

The combination of art and structure through technology and science can be experimental. In the example of BlingCrete, an experimental light reflecting concrete, an existing and widely used construction material is redefined into a visual art form. A material that was previously used as construction transformed into a living canvas for visual design. While this is not an entirely new concept, it shows a system that involves both the artistic and scientific lines of inquiry in equal measure and promotes dialogue about them.[3]

Perhaps it is that dialogue that is the important aspect of the experimental. Creating a new discourse of thinking from the creation of the art is possibly what ends up defining something experimental. If there is no previous discourse or dialogue about the piece, then its existence is creating a need for a discussion and in part a new definition.

Breaking down experimentation into 4 possible areas we can start to more deeply discuss how we can define being experimental, technology, technique, process and audience.

TECHNOLOGY

Utilising new technology or old technology in a new way is one path to being experimental. The rise of digital processing equipment and in particular its availability to the amateur or home user has opened up many fields of production in the arts to new and younger users. While there has been a focus on redesigning old processes with the new digital equipment, there are some that are using the new technology in different ways. The unconventional learning of the technology and its use in the home setting by nonscholarly artists plays a large role in the outcomes becoming experimental. A more traditionally taught artist would not explore the bounds of their art form as much if they have been taught in a structured way. What is acceptable and what isn’t. They may have a more thorough understanding of what has been done in the past, but they are usually less likely to step outside this structure unless directly asked to be experimental.

Perhaps either stepping out of your comfort discipline or completely redefining how you use the technology around you can help you become more experimental with technology.

TECHNIQUE

Approaching a topic or artform from a different perspective or expanding on the concept could be considered experimental. Developing new ideas and concepts on from a different angle can provide a whole new area of exploration. Often we are directed to the “correct” technique for each art form through our education system. A series of defined paths that lead to the desired outcome that is qualitative for the purpose of definition and grading.

Experimentation in technique is not supported through our western educational system, in music the pre-defined technique of writing or composing using a set structure of chords and notes will typically deliver a mainstream aesthetically pleasing project. Deliberately breaking the rules can start to lead you down a path that opens up to experimentation and something new.

PROCESS

Similar to technique, the process you undertake of making your art, can lead itself to be very experimentational. It may be going about the creation of your project with different tools or executing the creation of the art form in a different way to before. Perhaps the creation of the product is being done live and on the spot, perhaps you can take a new direction right from the start with different elements. Whatever you choose to do you should try and walk the path most unfamiliar to you, what would be the furthest thing from your usual process. How can you change and come at the creation from a different perspective?

AUDIENCE

Redefining the audience’s role or what the audience is expecting to hear, see, feel can also be considered experimental. We have so many preset expectations for art in the modern world. What is it? Why is it? is often already answered long before the audience even engages with the art. A visual canvas in a gallery has already so many predefined expectations, an audio piece you find in Spotify, a video that is delivered in the cinema or on Netflix under the ‘Action Movie’ section. The audience’s expectation of the art based upon it distribution point sets a series of guidelines for what is about to happen and what they may experience. Changing this norm can create an uneasy feeling for the audience and a confusing or misunderstanding and interpretation of the art. But this is where the experimental lives, challenging or forcing the audience to define their own perspective, their own interpretation of the art often engages the audience in a more thoughtful way and leads the piece to a new area of experimentation.

My project this trimester will be based upon multi-disciplinary experimentation. I will be attempting to touch on and pass through all four areas of experimentation and the process of attempting to do so will be an experimentation in the technique itself.

“Pragmatically, cross-disciplinary experimental research demands multi-objective evaluation. It is argued that projects of this nature can easily have multiple modes of success, multiple modes of failure, or an interesting mixture of successes and failures when measured from different viewpoints. These projects are referred to as “multi-component” in the sense that they are composed of elements that work together to create a unity and yet, when separated, each component should still function independently—these projects are therefore amenable to deconstruction.”[4]

Focusing on drawing and poetry as the main driver and then incorporating music and sound along with an interactive and moving image delivery to make the audience redefine how they are receiving the art and what genre or field the art actually fits into will be one of the main focuses. Utilising some possible interactivity with the audience in the form of a choose your own adventure piece and requiring the audience to follow cues targeted at different senses, visual, auditory and emotional. Delivering a poem that is actually a drawing, that could also be considered a song, that is conceptually a moving image and then returning to being a poem. Not designed to be any one art form and its distribution to the audience will be altered and placed in conceptually challenging places. It can be viewed as a poem and drawing delivered on Spotify and youtube and also a song delivered on blogs and Instagram for example.

I have always loved the multi-disciplinary use of story and visuals mixed with music, opera is a very defined process that also incorporates live performance, but also musical storybooks. Stories such as Peter & the Wolf have been delivered in a large variety of different formats and versions, from books to film and symphony, this version[5] from the chamber orchestra of Europe and the Spitting Image Workshop shows a good example of a project that is neither solely music, stage, film or story, but instead incorporates all four. Another favorite of mine is Harry Nilsson’s “Me and My Arrow” from the 1971 movie “The Point”[6]

Recalling back to our google sheet and goals stated for CIM401 and our projects, for us to make the most of this trimester we should be,

Screenshot 2017-09-26 17.51.06.png

Doing something new

-Getting out of our comfort zone

-Keeping it new and sticking to it

-Ignoring the haters

I’ll be Rebuilding society from the ground up and looking if anyone wants to join me. I would like to challenge you all to follow this and really move out of your comfort zone and possibly discipline into an area that forces you to experiment. Something new, not just for you, but so new that you can’t find an existing path to follow. So far out of your comfort zone that you don’t know what you’re doing. Sticking to it and Ignoring any haters including the ones in your head. Don’t doubt yourself that it’s not good or not new…. if you make it with your hands and heart, then it is good.

Rebuilding society from the ground up sounds like a large task, but for me, it is just about starting that avalanche, pushing that tiny stone off the edge into the scary and unknown. Deliberately walking a path that changes the audience’s perception of what your piece of art is, taking the audience into your song or film or story and leading them into something new without their awareness and forcing them to redefine what it is they just experienced.

So right now, I challenge you all to respond to this presentation not only in words but in any way you choose on this google drawing sheet. It might be a color or a shape or a picture or meme you copy and paste, an interpretive dance or pose, or whatever your brain and body is feeling right now. Close your eyes, cross your toes, put yourself in an uncomfortable zone and let flow and define with your expression what experimental means to you.

https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1uM9RNCxB3ym91Eyz24JCFczEmKH3XCc44JDaQ0P8ajE/edit?usp=sharing

And remember no guts, no glory, don’t just step outside your comfort zone, build a giant metal whale and ride that sucker down the main street until you forget where you are supposed to be. Don’t turn around and look back at the haters, smile, breathe and move forward, explore your way past insecurity, scare the fears out of your mind and trust yourself when you are free-falling, the end doesn’t need a definition.

You all remind of the babe, the babe with the power…. You have 4:02 mins of this link playing to respond on the google sheet, Dance Magic Dance

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDkp7GysvbY[7]

[1] Sonicbids. “What Separates Experimental Artists Who Get Mainstream Attention From Those Who Don’t?” Sonicbids Blog – Music Career Advice and Gigs. Accessed September 29, 2017. http://blog.sonicbids.com/what-separates-experimental-artists-who-get-mainstream-attention-from-those-who-dont.

[2] Jameson, A. D. “What Is Experimental Art?” BIG OTHER. March 12, 2010. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://bigother.com/2010/03/12/what-is-experimental-art/.

[3] “BlingCrete: Materials Development as Transdisciplinary Research Process.” BlingCrete: Materials Development as Transdisciplinary Research Process | Studies in Material Thinking. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://www.materialthinking.org/papers/96.

[4] “Multi-Objective Evaluation of Cross-Disciplinary Experimental Research.” Multi-Objective Evaluation of Cross-Disciplinary Experimental Research | Studies in Material Thinking. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://www.materialthinking.org/papers/100.

[5] TheBananaNababa. “Peter and the Wolf: A Prokofiev Fantasy.” YouTube. February 14, 2015. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1spGQQg0FA.

[6] MVDEntertainmentGrp. “Harry Nilsson The Point: The Definitive Collectors Edition – trailer.” YouTube. July 15, 2016. Accessed September 29, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2jxFrYR4VU.

[7] Edward982. YouTube. October 17, 2014. Accessed October 01, 2017. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDkp7GysvbY.