About this blog
The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Sunday, February 9, 2014
Blog posting written by Kayla Reopelle, Documentary Studies and Production '14, FLEFF Blogger, Roy, WA
Dr. Claudia Pederson has worked with the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival for eight years. This year she became assistant curator for new media. In an e-mail interview, she discussed her experience with the festival, her insights into the Viral Dissonance project, and what she is looking forward to for the 17th Annual Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival.
How would you describe yourself?
What are you interested in intellectually? What do you love to learn about?
My interests are in the digital arts. My main focus is on art, technology, and activism. I am especially interested in practices connected to social change, their histories and theoretical references.
How did you get involved with FLEFF?
Happenstance. I have been working with FLEFF since 2007. That year the festival was hosting an event on memes and they were also interested in my research on video games. I lectured on Molledindustria's work, the "McDonald's" game, for a class involved with the festival and it stuck.
What positions have you held with the festival?
Guest lecturer, workshop organizer, I have designed co-taught courses on digital art and critical design, organized a panel on new media and activist practices, served as new media curatorial adviser, taught a course on film festivals, was a moderator for special events, and currently I am an assistant curator for the new media exhibit of the festival.
What was one of your favorite experiences you have had with FLEFF?
All of it. Especially the courses were a lot of fun to design and teach. We also had the opportunity to freely invite emerging artists from the U.S. and elsewhere, theorists, and curators working in new media, which was a great experience for us and the students at Ithaca College. The curation of the new media part of the festival in which I am engaged now is an extension of that. As a curator I get to see great work and connect with exciting projects and artists.
What are your duties as assistant curator for new media?
Network artists, curators, and others engaged in the field of new media around the world. Work collaboratively to organize the exhibit.
How does new media function in a film festival’s environment?
Historically there are crossovers between film and computers (which are not as new a medium as thought). Nor are film festivals just about films alone. New media is part of the broader context of events in FLEFF, including music, lectures, workshops, etc.; you may think of it as a media environment, very broadly interpreted.
What is the “Viral Dissonance” project about? What are you looking for in a “Viral Dissonance” submission?
Each year the directors of FLEFF, Professors Patricia Zimmermann and Tom Shevory, suggest a theme that serves to guide the conceptual framework of the festival. The theme is not so much used to circumscribe but to open up discussion. As a concept guiding the exhibit, Dissonance both reflects the gist of our cultural moment as well as hints at strategies or ways to intervene in our conditions. We look for works that engage with both of these facets.
What is one thing you are excited about for this year’s festival?
That is precisely it, there isn't one thing, but many. The surprises and the unexpected are always the best part of the festival.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Because for most students at IC this will be their first festival, they are generally apprehensive about attending. Don't be. FLEFF is an opportunity to immerse yourself in intellectual life beyond your classroom. Come watch the films, ask questions, meet directors, go to concerts, attend the workshops and parties. Come prepared with questions and an open-mind. Think of FLEFF as an opportunity to be among people with common interests, a passion for learning.
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.
Monday, April 1, 2013
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '13, FLEFF Blogger, Elkridge, MD
Welcome to FLEFF's opening day and the first of many live blogs of the week.
We have concluded our discussion, but at 10:00AM-10:50AM in Park 220 Ulises Mejias will lead a discussion about Augmented Reality Games
ULISES MEJIAS: OFF THE NETWORK
"Networks increase participation, but also increase inequality."
"It's not if we shape our tools or if our tools shape us, but how."
Mejias' agenda includes "thinking the network" and then how we are to then "unthinking the network" to get us to move beyond network logic through many strategies, like intensification.
First, what is a network?
1. Nodes (each one of us)
2. Links (similar interests)
The problem with this type of "nodocentrism" is that a node cannot connect to anything except other nodes. Take your friend who refuses to make a Facebook page, you may realize the trouble they have getting party and event invitations since people only invite people currently on Facebook. This is an issue with social networking.
And, while those with few connections still grow (the poor), those with large networks (the rich) will rapidly gain more connections. This is a preferential system where Mejias says "the rich get richer."
"[Networks] are shaping the way we think about friends."
A network in Facebook or media terms is something very specific. It is a template created that is altering the way we think about things like friends and likes. It is software and programming that is reprogramming our mind based on algorithms.
It has moved from a network as a metaphor to a network as a template.
Mejias also explains the change from old media as a "one-to-many" monopoly to a new media "many-to-many" perfect competition.
However, monopsony is the economics of new media, it is a "many-to-one" approach.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Can these metrics help us catch terrorists? How?
"The sacrifices in privacy may not be worth the gains."
Inequality through participation takes many forms. This includes surveillance, filtering, blocking, psyops, spambots, and the loss of freedom of speech.
This is done by organizations and companies that run social media networks. Using fake accounts to spread propaganda, deleting so-called "problematic" accounts, and simply shutting off the network are all possibilities that can limit the people utilizing the network.
QUESTION: What are the power dynamics between activists, hackers, and the media?
SHORT SCREENING: Virtual Revolution, a BBC documentary.
"Dissent will only become possible in the spaces outside of the social networks."
We need to look into the spaces between the nodes. We must see the paranodes are the resisters, the rejecters, the expelled, and the excluded.
Paranodality: the outside of the network is not empty but inhabited by multitudes that do not conform to the organizing logic of the network.
And once we reach these paranodes and maintain a MOBILITY between being in a network to being outside of it we can find power (intensification).
QUESTION: Is it easier to express dissent inside or outside the network?
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Blog post by Chloe Wilson, Television-Radio '14, FLEFF Blogger, Ashland, Massachusetts
I got the chance to speak with Ulises Mejias, a new media scholar who will be hosting a workshop at this year's FLEFF! He gave me the scoop on his work and what to expect this year. Read on for more!
Chloe Wilson: How are you involved with this year's FLEFF?
UM: I am part of the group of scholars and writers invited to participate in the festival. I'm going to be giving a talk on Monday about my book, Off the Network. On Friday, I will be giving a lab on alternate reality games, which are simulations that I have been conducting at SUNY Oswego (where I teach) for 4 years.
CW:What are your previous experiences with FLEFF?
UM: I have been involved in the festival before, and I always enjoy the opportunity to share my work and ideas with IC students. I am a Park graduate (BFA '94 and MS '99), so coming back is always a treat. FLEFF wasn't around when I was here, and I think it's a great forum for all of us to come together and learn from each other. It's quite a unique and intellectually stimulating environment.
CW: For those who are unfamiliar, can you describe your new media work?
UM: I guess my work falls under the rubric of "critical internet studies," which means I look at the impact of the internet from the perspective of what is know as "critical theory." In essence, I am interested in the question of how digital networks include and exclude modes and meanings of sociality. In my work, I engage in an examination of the network as a technological template for organizing and determining society, a template that increases participation while simultaneously also increasing certain forms of inequality.
CW: What will your workshop (Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital) be about?
UM: I'm going to be summarizing the argument I make in my book of that same title, which is coming out in June. In the book, I start by looking at how the science of networks informs the development of digital technologies. I then look at how the technologies inform the economics of participation in networks: what kinds of interactions are possible or impossible in terms of socialization, collaboration, activism, surveillance, and so on. I then propose a way to "unthink" the logic of the network, and explain why that might even be something we want to consider. Finally, I make a proposal for opening up spaces for imagining new identities and ways of relating to networking technologies.
CW: If you had to narrow it down to one reason, why should a FLEFFer attend the workshop?
UM: In order to have a healthy diet, you need to understand the basics of nutrition, not just eat what a corporation puts in front of you. Likewise, I am suggesting that in order to have a "healthy" relationship with the digital networks we use --from cell phones to social networking sites-- we need to understand the ingredients, and we need to understand how they interact to cause certain effects.
CW: What is your interpretation of this year's FLEFF theme of Mobilities?
UM: What I like about FLEFF is how the theme is always open-ended, and how it takes actually takes shape through the various events and the interactions they create. To me, mobilities and immobilities suggests the affordances of technology: what they make possible, but also the opportunities they foreclose. Every technology puts something in motion, but it also arrests certain kinds of movements.
Make sure to stop by Mejias' workshop, Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital, on Monday, April 1st!
BIO OF ULISES MEJIAS:
Ulises A. Mejias is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Studies department at SUNY Oswego. He holds a doctorate in Technology and Education from Columbia University. He has published in various journals in his field, and recently co-authored a chapter in the book Activist Art in Social Justice Pedagogy about the use of alternate reality games as platforms for learning and activism. His book, Off the Network: Disrupting the Digital World is coming out in June 2013 from University of Minnesota Press. His research interests include critical Internet studies, network theory and science, philosophy and sociology of technology, and political economy of new media.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Wake up. Get ready for the day. Walk down 4 flights of stairs. Walk past the library. Cut through Campus Center. Walk through the parking lot outside of Phillips Hall. Stop and get coffee at the Park cart. Go to class.
This is my daily routine just to get to class. In just 7 months, I’ve walked this route hundreds of times, and it’s safe to say that I could probably walk it with my eyes closed at this point (okay, maybe not with all the stairs).
How often do we get stuck in routines? How often do we neglect to let ourselves explore the environment we live in simply because we don’t need to?
In a world reduced to cell phones and computer screens, it’s more important now, than it has ever been, to break out of our shell of convenience and “comfortability” and actually explore the world that we live in. This is where Dérive app comes in.
The brainchild of Babak Fakhamzadeh, a web guru who is currently situated in Uganda, and Eduardo Cachucho, an architect living in Johannesburg, Dérive app is a web-based application that allows users to “get lost in [their] own city,” states Fakhamzadeh.
The application presents users with a series of cards that dictate a certain action. These digital cards, which are accompanied by drawings, collages, and/or pictures generated by contributors, lead the user on an unpredictable, and purely random route throughout the city, or area, of his or her choosing.
“Follow something yellow”
“Find a fancy sports car”
“Stop for three minutes.”
The cards are simple to follow, yet interesting enough to allow for a full day exploration of a city.
“By using Dérive app, you are specifically avoiding places that everyone else is going to,” says Fakhamzadeh. It allows users to “explore the city merely for being there,” adds Cachucho, “it gets them out of their everyday experience of the city.”
In addition to tracking their dérives (the unofficial name for users’ explorations, which comes from the French verb “deriver” which means “to drift”) users also have the ability to add pictures and notes from their journey. It’s also “a tool to record that experience and share that experience with others,” notes Fakhamzadeh.
So get out there and dedicate a day to exploration. Break out of your routine and explore your surroundings! Find a new favorite place to eat, venture down some back streets, and get lost in your own city.
I’ll be doing a dérive in Philadelphia next week; where will you explore?
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '14, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD
Coming to you straight from Park 220, a.k.a. the "Disco Lounge," is a party of new media artists. Right now we have Helen De Michiel, Laura Deutch, and Phillip Mallory Jones all sitting here talking with students and each other.
Their comments from the industry are enlightening. They talk about the industry, their own work, independence, and unemployment. It's hard to track when each one has such interesting things to say, but here we go.
Dr. Zimmermann provided the introductions and a short conversation before fellow blogger Shea Lynch started a long discussion about the artists' favorite subjects. Which is all you need to get these brilliant minds rolling.
Helen provided us with some insight into the industry and how to get started working in this difficult field. Laura was able to talk about working in the documentary field and building up trust with who she works with. Then, with some support from both Laura and Helen, Phil began his discourse.
Phillip started with, "It's internal." A great point from which to dive in. "It has to do with getting something out... What I'm always doing is getting something out of here. It's a signature." An amazing look into the mind of the artist.
Helen continued with "Art does not refer to a particular set of rules or forms or materials as it once did." It is a "sensorium that is different than domination." She urges the students to do what we want to do. However, we should know that it may not allow us to live indefinitely. We still should do it! Especially in such a fluid world. We just need to accept that "today you may be drinking wine. But, tomorrow you may be picking grapes."
Laura jumped in on the conversation to talk about how we are working in new organizational formats. The consumer based world is something that we need to work and live in. We need to take on a new form of life.
We come back to Helen. She says that we will be able to live off of the skills that we know. Even though, as Phil alerted us, we will most likely become unemployed. Working in this industry is pushing the pain boundaries. Phil even asks us, "Where do you want to take the pain? What matters?"
The conversation continued, delving deeper and deeper into everyone. All of the students are on the edge of their seats, taking in every piece of information.
It is impressive what these intellectuals are working on right now.
Laura is working on Messages in Motion, a project in which she works to create and produce the short form documentary. Helen is working on Lunch Love Community, a web series in which she documents the development of food in California public schools. Phil also explained how he is working is Second Life to help work with the qualifications of elementary school teachers through a module. All impressive pieces of work.
They continued with how everything is such a collective space. Dr. Zimmermann then educated us on Singapore and how it is a different experience from the U.S. The work more on a flat, fluid scale than the pyramid employed here.
New media is becoming the way of the future. The people themselves are becoming the market, you must learn skills and use them in order to market yourself in order to get a break. Also, leadership skills are vital to success.
Collaboration is perhaps the most important method of creating projects. They pressed the necessity of education and personal growth in this fluid world. Everything is always moving and you have to go with the flow.
Now, we have the final words of advice from each one:
Helen stuck with what she has been saying the whole time, market yourself, learn, and get leadership skills.
Phil went philosophical and said "Take your show on the road." Work with a group and get out into the world.
Laura said, just go out into the world and talk to people! Get out of your comfort zone.
I wish I could've gone even more in depth, but I myself was enthralled by the conversation. Luckily, the guests will be here for another few days and there are many opportunities to see them. Soon, I will post up a few key events that should be seen. Come back soon! We have many bloggers around doing this everywhere. FLEFF is everywhere!
Helen's screening will be Saturday at noon at Cinemapolis. She will be presenting Lunch Love Community.
Phillip is actually presenting at 4 p.m. in Studio A. So if you can go check it out!
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Blog posting written by Peter Keahey, Film, Photography and Visual Arts, '12, FLEFF Intern, Yellow Springs, Ohio
I'm sitting in Textor hall, room 101, waiting for speaker Philip Mallory Jones to begin his presentation. I had previously conducted an interview with Mr.Mallory, and found he was working in a field that I am currently trying to learn and explore. I wanted to attend one of his presentations, and was disheartened to learn they were during my classes. Then I found out he was giving a guest lecture during another class, and I was relieved.
I look around and see many students, and a few interns aside from myself. Tom is giving his introduction of Mr.Mallory, detailing the numerous accomplishments of Mr.Jones. Tom is explaining how Mr. Jones has won numerous awards for films, digital painting and much more. Mr. Jones work has been seen around the world, and as Tom says, "Mr.Jones is a big deal."
Mr.Jones has begun his lecture, detailing his past living in Ithaca, having also been faculty for three years. He started shooting video in 1969, when Ithaca was one of the New Media hubs of the planet. It was internationally recognized as a pioneer in the new form of small format video.
One of the things that attracted Mr.Mallory to video was that there were "no rules." Mr.Jones explains that the work he began back in the seventies created and influenced the media courses and ideas available today. Ultimately, it was the idea of the frontier that attracted Mr.Jones to video, "the ability to express personal vision."
Mr.Jones details the excitement he felt at making his very first electronic edit, and knowing "this is the future." From that moment on, he "didn't look back."
He explains how the early technology was very much different from what it is today, but never less exciting. Today, Mr.Jones' new frontier is in synthetic worlds. Making "interactive 3D environments. There are opportunities in these fields that weren't available before. It's magic, it's truly magical, to re-create your own vision in a virtual world."
Mr.Jones is now about to screen a piece of "Machinima." This particular piece is a virtual memoir, meant to be viewed in three dimensions, "narrative, vision, and sound." The piece is called, "In the Sweet Bye and Bye.
As the piece rolls on, we see floating image planes with differing projections suspended in empty space. A voice kicks in and begins the narrative, speaking as if a letter is being read. Lights and moving images move across the screen amongst the still images. A male voice and a female voice interweave stories and poems while text and images, old and new, of African Americans drift through the screen. The poems are dark and melancholic, recalling racial injustices gone by.
The piece, "began as an installation in gallery space. But this is not the way this work needs to be seen." Mr.Jones explains, by making the work digital, on a screen, it becomes luminous, instead of reflected. He explains that the reflected light changes and masks the intended colors. You can see how the work is meant to look by going to www.philipmalloryjones.com
In the Sweet Bye and Bye, "took me to the next step" explains Mr.Jones, "to a new dimension." A new piece of machinima begins, called Bronzeville Etudes and Riffs. He's been working on this piece for two years. His idea is to make a 3D graphic novel, an "exploded collage."The four minute piece begins, it's a tour of an entirely virtual neighborhood. Slow piano music plays while we see streets, building interiors and exteriors, and various other props.
We see old photographs and flyers that have been digitally integrated into the environment, showing past locations and times and people like louis Armstrong.
A new Video titled "Paragon Show Lounge." begins. The title is the name of a modeled building from the previous film. This video is a tour of this building's interior. He explains that although in the video has music, the real environment would not have music "floating in the air, it will be integrated." For instance, turning on a juke box would play the music.
The video pans and zooms around an entirely digital lounge. There's a stage, complete with a band and stage lights. Patrons sit around low lighted tables enjoying drinks and dancing. The people are frozen in the scene, and a man plays the piano.
Now Mr.Jones takes questions. The first inquires how long it takes to create an environment such as the lounge. He explains that it can take years, and this lounge has taken three years. He has gotten to the point where he can start over. He explains that he is creating a map of the actual city of Bronzeville to recreate the look of the time. Making the map is a way to stay productive while facing problems, such as how to make several dozen characters interact in the environment.
A solution to that problem is to make many of them NPCs or "non player characters." This models would not be driven by humans, but programmed to interact with the characters that are. He explains that the project may not even be avatar based, but entirely scripted, like the game, "Myst."
Another problem is that you cannot control how visitor avatars look in your environment. "A 1920s environment with a gold dragon or a 10 foot dominatrix breaks the illusion."
One solution to this is the Ipad, where you can move through a scripted world as intended by designers like Mr.Jones.
The next question is about attaining right to songs or music. Mr.Jones explains his strategy is to, "hold my breath. I wouldn't be surprised if I post this on the internet and get a nasty letter." He explains that he knows that eventually rights will have to be purchased for various elements, and that's a "necessary part of the problem."
The next question is about being able to differentiate your ideas from ideas you may pick up from other artists simply by surfing the internet. "Is it difficult, do you ever walk that line?"
Mr. Jones explains, "The short answer is no." He then details that accepting influence from another artist is different from simply taking someones work. You can have a "conversation" with another artist, but you can also change the conversation. He details how many of his influences are 2D artists, and he is working in "time" which changes the conversation.
The next question asks if Mr.Jones draws designs to plan his ideas. Mr.Jones explains that he does not draw. But he always made things, as a sort of compulsion. He made models, picked up cameras, and found other ways to make his images. "But I always felt handicapped, that I can't just draw...I found other ways to work around it. Those memories exist, finding ways to get them out is the problem."
In closing,"The important thing is to keep working. Don't let obstacles stop that process. If it's in (your head) make it clear. The vision is to try it. It's important not to let a lack of resources or disciplinary skills stop that work...I would keep working if all I had was cardboard and crayons. It's a matter of finding a way...If it's well crafted and clear, it can still be brilliant."
Monday, April 11, 2011
Blog posting by Brian McCormick, Film, Photo & Visual Arts '12, FLEFF Intern, Wilbraham, MA
This is a reminder that THIS FRIDAY, 4/15 at 11am in Park 220, there will be a FLEFF lab meet up with new media/film director Helen De Michiel.
Taken from her FLEFF bio: "Michiel is director of the Lunch Love Community webisode open space documentary project. Her 1995 feature film Tarantella, starring Mira Sorvino, won the Audience Award at the 1996 Torino International Woman’s Film Festival. Her documentary, Turn Here Sweet Corn (1990) was seen nationally on the PBS series POV, receiving awards from Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Earthpeace International Film Festival and the American Film & Video Festival."
Don't miss this chance to meet up and engage in conversation with such a revelational artist in person!
Michiel will also be here to talk on Thursday, 4/14 at 1:10pm in Park 220. Here open space documentary "Lunch Love Community" will be playing this Saturday, 4/16 at 12:00 noon at Cinemapolis. Just look at the film's website -- it's incredible!
REMEMBER: All of these on-campus events are FREE (most Cinemapolis events charge admission), so get out there! Keep up with the on-campus schedule so you don't miss any of these gems.
There is a saying amongst past FLEFF attendees: "There has never been a FLEFF event that I did not enjoy!"
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Blog posting written by Brian McCormick, Film, Photo & Visual Arts '12, FLEFF Intern, Wilbraham, MA
Tijuana based new media group DreamAddictive will be at FLEFF this Tuesday, April 12th in Business 104 at 7:00pm (on campus, FREE) for "Activist Retooling Fourfold," along with Elvira Dyangani Ose, Monica Haller and Sarah Wylie.
DreamAddictive is a collaborative partnership that began in 2003 between Leslie Garcia and Carmen González.
As quoted from their FLEFF bio: "[DreamAddictive's] work explores technical skills coming from the field of applied sciences, like physical computing, visual programming, hardware production, articulated through art and design, to create responsive environments and situations that play with the limits between the oneiric and the virtual."
DreamAddictive "works under the Open source philosophy as a way of sustaining and distributing the knowledge produced from research in working with multiple means." (taken from the DreamAddictive website)
One of their recent projects is OpenSolarCircuits, which is a project which works as a collective construction framework, systematizing the knowledge obtained during the research process so as to be later reproduced in different contexts. The project focuses on experimenting with sustainable electronic circuits, thus generating knowledge networks and tools for urban interaction.
Their work has been shown in diverse contexts: virtual happenings through the Internet; festivals; solo and group exhibitions, as well as live acts and audiovisual improvisations. DreamAddictive is the recipient of the grant PECDA “Creadores con trayectoria”,and the grant Fonca “Jóvenes creadores."
Don't miss them, along with other FLEFF guests, this Tuesday, April 12th in Business 104 at 7:00PM! (on campus, FREE)
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Blog posting written by Peter Keahey, Film, Photography and Visual Arts, '12, FLEFF Intern, Yellow Springs, Ohio
Peter: Does all this technology ever become overwhelming?
Philip: Daily. I have my own mechanisms for dealing with that. One of the principle mechanisms is I watch a lot of 1930s movies, early B-movies. It’s not that I think they’re good, but they take me out of the mindset, this frontier media saturation, that I work in all the time. To watch Flash Gordon conquer the universe for an hour between midnight and one a.m. helps me. I also actually study the sets of these old movies, and I pay a lot of attention to the environments and the details of their sets and lighting and camera compositions. So it’s also research, and informing how I approach 3D modeling and set design and so on. It helps to ground me in some ideas and techniques and concepts that are long term and cross media boundaries. Watching old movies refreshes my cinema vocabulary. I don’t do a lot of activities that can’t relate to making my work. So I found a way of making 30s movies useful, and I get a break from what I do thirteen hours a day.
Peter: Do you try to maintain a balance between traditional artwork and digital artwork?
Philip: Not in terms of the forms that I work in. My work is entirely digital. If I’m working with something analogue it’s in order to move it into a digital form. My sources for content and perspective are analogue. Just as I watch 1930s movies, I also seriously study photography, music, and theatre from other times. I draw from those not only content, but ideas about how things are put together. That kind of study goes back thousands of years. How are ideas shaped? How are messages shaped? How are ideas and messages coded in works from other places and times and cultures? In that way, I’m very much paying attention to analogue forms, in order to understand how and why they were made, extract that information, and move it into my contemporary work. To move these ideas from the renaissance or a temple into current work is for me a very exciting thing to do. It gives me a kind of perspective I think is very useful. It gives my work a particular character and signature.
Peter: What are your current projects?
Philip: They are entirely digital projects and deal with synthetic worlds. I’ve done this for the past four or five years now. I’ve been working in digital worlds such as Second Life and other grids. That’s been enormously exciting and challenging to me. A whole new world literally opens up. At the same time it returns me to a much older interest, animation and model making. Those have been interests of mine for a very long time. I was doing 16 mm animation in the late 60s early 70s. I was building models since I was old enough to pick up glue and use a paintbrush. Creating synthetic worlds allows me to deal with those kinds of interests. It’s entirely plastic and malleable, to the level of coding involved.
Because of the frontier nature of synthetic worlds and other virtual reality forms such as augmented reality and 3D, there’s room to invent. There’s room to innovate and experiment, and to actually shape what these things look like going into the future. The world we live in today was very much invented and shaped by the media artists that I was working with in the early seventies. There’re people that I knew, that moved from New York State to the west coast in the mid-70s to go to work in the unheard of video-game enterprise. And look at the world today. The artists and technologists of that day were involved in the creation and incubation of what we know today. Just in the concept of college programs and media art, that is a direct result of what we were doing in places like Ithaca Video Projects and other media arts centers at the dawn of the current world.
Peter: Are you still based in Ithaca?
Philip: I left Ithaca in 1987. I am currently in Athens Ohio.
Peter: What kind of work are you bringing to FLEFF this year?
Philip: I’m participating in a couple discussions about the history of media art, particularly in the Finger Lakes area. I’m also giving a talk on my current work in synthetic worlds, and how I transitioned from a literal body of work in an installation, to an installation in Second Life, coming out of the same body of work and presenting it in an entirely different way.
Saturday, April 9, 2011
Blog posting written by Peter Keahey, Film, Photography and Visual Arts, '12, FLEFF Intern, Yellow Springs, Ohio
I recently had the chance to conduct a very interesting interview with new media artist Philip Mallory Jones. Mr. Jones has worked with video, film, photography, and other venues going back to the 1960s. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the Arizona Governors Award for the Arts for his digital Paintings.
Currently, Mr. Jones works completely in digital and synthetic worlds, creating things such as 3D models and synthetic worlds. His work has been shown all over the world. He was also the founder of Ithaca Video Projects, a very important media center back in the 70's and 80's.
His FLEFF lectures are 4-6p.m. Thursday April 14 in Studio A in the Roy Park School of Communications, and Friday April 15 from 1-2p.m.
Peter: How long have you been involved with FLEFF?
Philip: This is my first time participating in the festival.
Peter: What made you decide to participate this year?
Philip: Patty Zimmerman contacted me and asked if I was interested in being a part of it. Because of the component of the festival involving archives and experimental television centers, and my long history in media in the Finger Lakes area, She felt it was a good idea, and appropriate, to contact me.
Peter: When you first began using “new media,” what sort of projects were you doing?
Philip: I began using video in 1969. That was the beginning of small format video. I’ve done a lot of different things for the past forty-something years. In 69-70, when Ithaca Video Projects first formed, we had a contemporary interests and concerns at that time. For me, working in video, which was new, with no courses or colleges to teach this, was the frontier. It was the possibility of inventing a new art form and a new media language. That in particular interested me. Just as many years before, filmmakers approached cinema in the same way, and photography, and so on.
Given that video, in it’s earliest days, was very different from television and very different from cinema, it was the opportunity for me and others involved at that time to really step into new territory and bring our own sensibilities and interests to this new form, and to experiment.
Peter: What sort of work was Ithaca Video Projects involved in?
Philip: Ithaca Video Projects closed in 1985. It ran for fourteen years. It was one of the first media arts centers anywhere. The involvement over those fourteen years was quite widespread not only in the Ithaca area, but also nationally and internationally. For instance, in 1985, I took that years Ithaca video festival to cities in Belgium.
During the active years of Ithaca Video Projects, we were involved with everything that went on in the Ithaca area, around New York State and beyond. We did all kinds of work with area arts associations and individual artists. It was quite extensive. It was accessible to others. We had a visiting artists program and also loaned equipment to groups and individuals in the area. It was a very community oriented arts association.
Peter: As a new media artist, how important is it to stay up to date with technology?
Philip: It’s important and it’s not important. I learned a long time ago, working with media tools, there’s always the chase for the current technology, and that hasn’t changed in forty-two years. That is a constant struggle and anxiety. With the advent of additional technologies, there’s also keeping up with the software. That’s an even bigger problem and a constant learning curve. I’m always looking at three to five different programs that I need to take the time to learn how to use.
As my ambitions and visions for work move with the technology, that’s my need to stay current. On the other hand, an artist working in any form can do great work by mastering that form and those tools. Great work can be made on a piano today just as it could several hundred years ago. It’s what the artist brings to the tool and the form that really shapes the work. So on one hand I struggle with this constant learning curve challenge, but I keep in mind, you can make great work with a stick in the sand if you’re good with a stick. It’s not the tool that makes the work; it’s the mind of the artist.
April 9 2011