About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Friday, April 5, 2013
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner '13 & Andrew Ronald '15, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts, FLEFF Interns
New media and an experimental filmmaker? Be prepared for some very unique and inspired thoughts during this next hour of FLEFF Lab Friday. Make sure to stop by Park 220 sometime today as it will always have something exciting going on.
A very good start to the conversation. Everyone is introducing themselves and seeing the variety of interests in the room.
Evan Meaney talks about transmedia and how his method is to destroy everything. He takes apart files and then tries to create something new from the pieces.
QUESTION: What is it to live in a world where media is decaying?
Mansoor Behnam discusses his obsession with images and how the ideals of mystical Persian literature has led him to produce his experimental films. He is experiementing with the idea of god with the help of digital media and technology.
SCREENING: "When You Are Blind" (2001) Short Film By Mansoor Behnam (video embedded below)
"It's the burden of representation."
Mansoor believes that in order to experience the non-representational one must embrace the experimental format. It is necessary to represent the invisible and create mystical work through a lot of abstract effort and imagery.
One major goal of his projects are to bring "new and hidden truth to a body of knowledge."
Another point is that collaboration can bring out new heights and thoughts in each work.
The issues of suppression and public viewpoints are a serious consideration to talk about and unfortunately we need to give some time to Evan Meaney so find Mansoor and ask him questions!
"Art-math high five?"
Evan takes a stab at explaining Null_Sets. It basically is a way of converting text into images, similar to the method of a QR code. And theoretically if you have a camera with a high enough fidelity you could translate these images back into their original data.
QUESTION: "At what point does noise become useful data?"
Now, you can even download the Null_Sets toolkit right here.
QUESTION: How do these works connect?
Mansoor sees it in the images that come out of new media attributed to the presence of the infinity. Also, if anyone has seen Middle Eastern rugs, many people have seen a connection to telling stories through patterns in these carpets to the visuality of the Null_Sets jpegs.
Evan discusses compression and how if something becomes so compressed it becomes something unreadable and unreachable. We don't have access to it. "It becomes invisible." Which is what Mansoor attempts to describe in his work.
Fortunately, a lot of their work is available online. So go watch it, use it, download it and let us know what connections you find.
Friday, April 5, 2013
Blog posting written by Andrew Ronald '15 & Shawn Steiner '13, Film, Photography & Visual Arts, FLEFF Interns
What's the best part about Friday during FLEFF week? FLEFF Lab Friday of course! Shawn and Andrew are here live blogging the event for everyone who couldn't make it to Park 220 today in person.
We are starting with Ulises Mejias, author of Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital, discussing Augmented Reality Games.
10:13 AM - "Every crisis is an opportunity, but sometimes you don't get enough crises."
10:15 AM - "Play it before you live it [by] constructing scenarios about things that could happen in your community, and then using this platform to create dialogue." This year in particular, Mejias is discussing the all-too accessible issue of fracking.
10:20 AM - Mejias discusses how he gets his students on campus to participate in these games through an interactive, virtual experience. The goals range from the conceptual ability to create dialogue by writing comments and sending invitations, more participatory actions like attending events and educating others, and perhaps the ultimate form of involvement: the ability to act.
10:33 AM - To what extent can these games go in terms of the topics being covered? As far as Mejias is concerned, the administrators have not censored him, yet. But he reflects upon the games where the point is to "...choose topics that, by their nature, create discomfort." And for example, "...people are not that willing to talk about racism."
10:36 AM - What otherwise might be looked at as nothing more than schoolwork, Mejias stresses what makes these games more playful than academic? Simple elements, like the element of competition, generating participation on the website, and centralizing the mere essence of game theory separates the boundaries.
10:40 AM - Although he started doing this with one class, participation has steadily increased to about 150 students. Colleagues have begun to offer this as both credit and extra credit, and the number of stars won on this game are even associated with a grade for Mejias' students. 3 stars earn a C, while 5 stars earn a very worthy A.
10:50 AM - The idea of intensification is quite paradoxical where, while participating in various activities, you happen to leave room to generate more inequality. Although these games are a great simulation, it has its limits: there is no active energy associated with a virtual experience. So the obvious follow-up to the question is, of course, how to get students to physically create change.
10:53 AM - Augmented realities aren't about aliens invading. ARG's are a way of marketing products, video games, movies, etc.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Blog posting written by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF intern, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
I'm currently sitting in Williams 202, waiting for the screening of Mansoor Behnam's experimental film, Cup of Coffee with Kafka. Behnam, himself, is here and ready to talk to the FLEFF-goers in the room. Stay tuned to read about Behnam's comments, and my thoughts on the film.
5:32 pm: Benham thanks the class for coming and introduces his film, Cup of Coffee with Kafka.
As an immigrant to Canada in 2006, Benham says that he experienced feelings of displacement and alienation in his time of transition, and that his work reflects very personally on his experience.
In 2010, he attended a panel with the theme of "in transit." Behnam says he was fascinated with the idea of transit and mobilities.
Along with a friend, Felipe Quetzalcoatl Quintanilla, a diasporic Mexican filmmaker, Behnam crafted an experimental documentary reflecting on the theme that fascinated and touched them both.
"It has an element of instability and change, so sometimes the film may look different than that of 'typical films'" he preludes.
The lights are dimming and the film is starting, get ready.....!
The film opens with a definition of the word "transit," followed by a handheld, sped up, blue filter-tinged shot of people and cars passing as the person holding the camera walks down the street. This lasts approximately 50 seconds until the film stops. Apparently we have only a short clip of the film set up on the computer, so it'll be a few minutes while moderator Tom Shevory figures things out.
5:42 pm: A DVD of the film is loaded and ready to go!
5:43 pm: The film is restarted, and this time it plays for more than 50 seconds (yay!). The handheld images taken while the cameraperson walks (which are reminiscent of the dizzying feature film, Cloverfield) are spliced between interviews of filmmakers as they explain their definition of transit.
Some filmmakers define the term literally, as a state of motion. Others offer up more creative definitions, often accompanied by stories and examples. I wish I had seen this film when I offered up my own definition of mobilities.
5:55 pm: More technical difficulties! Static noise consumes the classroom and the picture on screen breaks and jumps in slow motion. Once again, our moderator and filmmaker are on the case, trying to figure it out.
6:01 pm: The film is working again, but this time we're watching it through YouTube. Isn't technology great?
6:02: Except buffering. Buffering is not great. The classroom is ringing with suggestions on how to avoid the dreaded buffer awaiting a thirty-six minute film.
6:11: The film is working again, again.
The documentary-style interviews with the filmmakers offer some interesting views and definitions of the word "transit." But, coupled with visible microphones, varying aspect ratios, random cuts on action and more distanciating elements, the film is definitely experimental in nature - an interesting and refreshing take on the art of documentary filmmaking.
6:25 pm: The film has ended and Behnam is waiting to answer questions.
"I like nomadism. I'm trying to turn this concept of 'instability' and 'homelessness' into being 'in a home'."
"Through the element of change, we are actually fixed. We are fixed in a constant state of change."
6:31 pm: He explains concepts of change through examples of science and paradoxes.
"For me on one hand change is internal, it's existential. On the other hand, its physical. As an experimental filmmaker, I try to reflect that through my work. It's not bounded by rules or borders, so it can always be changing."
If you couldn't be here and would still like to see Behnam's film, you can find it on YouTube.
What is your definition of transit?
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Blog posting by Karly Placek, Documentary Studies and Production '15, FLEFF Social Media Manager, Monroe, Wisconsin
I'm over in Williams 202 live blogging with Kelly Matheson, Program Manager for the Americas for Witness. She's about to discuss the TRUST Campaign regarding climate change awareness.There's still time to join if you aren't here already. If you can't make it, here are some highlights!
4:05 p.m. - Matheson discusses the main issues we, as inhabitants of Earth, face due to climate change.
4:07 p.m. - UN predicts that by 2050, one in seven people will have to be relocated due to food and water shortages.
4:15 p.m. - Matheson discusses the rights inherent to future generations - the concept of "intergenerational justice."
4:19 p.m. - "We have a basic human right to a stable environment."
4:21 p.m. - Young environmentalists are urging the local and national government to adapt a Comprehensive Climate Recovery plan to protect the atmosphere - but it must be based on carbon science instead of carbon politics.
4:25 p.m. - One of the TRUST campaign videos is screened. It features Nelson Kanuk, an Alaskan teen suing the government for neglecting his basic human rights regarding environmental health. He and his family live a sustainable lifestyle and depend directly upon the environment for their food and resources.
4:35 p.m. - There are two audiences for action campaign videos. One is the broad audience, who raise awareness on issues. The other audience is among the decision makers in governmental power - those who can make legal change.
4:40 p.m. - "We try to go from close up shots to wide shots." This is about the individual as well as the world.
4:45 p.m. - We watch another TRUST Campaign video. This time, Massachusetts teen Eshe Sherley is featured. She urges the government to think about incorporating local and healthy food initiatives into public school systems.
5:01 p.m. - Discussion of the NEPA Act - The government must know the social, environmental, and cultural consequences of acts regarding the environment.
5:05 p.m. - "A true listener listens with the willingness to help." - Eshe Sherley. Matheson remarks that this is one of the most important things she has learned.
Much thanks to Kelly Matheson for an excellent presentation! I'm eager to learn more about environmental policies and what I can do to help. Check out Witness's TRUST Campaign for more information on how you can get involved.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Blog post written by Amber Thibault, Cinema and Photography ’15, FLEFF Intern, Lewiston, Maine.
16:05: Introduction to "Crafting the Bamasaba" and Dominic Dipio, Fulbright Scholar, writes about african film and literature.
16:06: Dr. Dipio describes film as a paper.
16:08: "Crafting the Bamasaba" screens
17:11 "Crafting the Bamasaba" ends
17:12: Part of a bigger project - Uganda folklore project, trying to understand why people do what they do
17:13: So many interpretations of Imbalu. Elders know Imbalu (circumcision) is different now than it used to be.
17:14: Young people don't know why they do what they do.
17:15: Those who go through upward mobility and get an education don't need the approval of their community. More likely to get circumcised at the hospital.
17:16: Audience question - What degree do these rituals respond to changes of the times?
17:18: Dipio explains "In the traditional, sense the ritual is suppose to be a whole year" Ritual compressed to accomodate schooling. "Economically, it's becoming challenging to do the ritual. It is responding to the challenges of the times."
17:20: The use of alcohol is a new negative aspect of Imbalu. Elders say Imbalu use to be more religious. "Initiates go to the place where the ancestors are...connection to their heritage...ritual condensed into three intense days prior to their circumcision"
17:22: The ritual use to prepare them for marriage. Dipio "One of the responsibilities is to take studies seriously"
17:24: Dipio "Ritual is out of place...now used to craft male identity...oppressive to the women"
17:25: Women of this community don't circumcise. Dipio "The omission is very interesting to note"
17:26: Agency of women has been removed.
17:27: Audience comment - More and more people against female circumcision...but if it gives a voice in the community... it is an different argument.
17:30: Something to be said for the intense experience of a group trial.
17:31: Two people circumcised in the same year consider themselves brothers.
17:32: Still takes courage for someone to stand up and say they were circumcised in a hospital.
17:33: HIV/AIDS and the knife. Dipio doubts that people don't change knife. When ask how dealing with issue of AIDS. Some say use several knifes or disinfect with powder or sharpened so well that there are no germs.
17:35: Fear of community looking down on you is stronger than fear of the same knife.
17:37: Class division and Imbalu
17:38: Women ritual, probably talk to other women, very inward. Male ritual is outward and expressive.
17:39: Many scholars defensive when asked about this issue. Worried about their image in Uganda. They want to accept that the major shift to hospitals.