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.
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Blog post written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '13, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD
Elizabeth Miller has begun her presentation so there is still time to get here if you can! We are in The Park Center for Business room 111.
TRANSMEDIA WORKSHOP: ELIZABETH MILLER
"The beauty of transmedia is that both of us can present at the same workshop and show drastically different things."
"Stories are at the core of understanding people."
SCREENING: Mapping Memories
This is a participatory transmedia project Miller worked on in which youths of Montreal were able to tell their stories on their terms. It is important to understand that transmedia is more than a digital environment.
Miller does a lot of her work in a documentary setting, but that hasn't stopped these projects from evolving into multiple forms across mediums. And, after watching a couple clips from some projects I am getting more excited for On the Waterfront screening at Cinemapolis tomorrow night.
"People protect people from violence."
Transmedia projects and the idea of using media to bring information to the public is necessary to helping society. Educating the public is a way to change the world.
And, as a plus, this movement between and through medias is a "mobility."
Issues of Privacy and Protection
The key is working in a group with people with similar stories. A safe environment is where it starts. But, the purpose of these stories is to create a shift in thought.
Evan: You can't outrun it. Instead of fighting it you have to get right in front of it. Accept you don't have privacy and work in that realm.
Miller: The huge thing in transmedia is public vs. private.
Evan: "Facebook me is better than me." Facebook opens you up to the public sphere in a way in which you cannot recover from.
Elizabeth Miller is a huge supporter of web documentaries. It allows people to access the databases of information available and travel through it in their own way. And while it is still evolving we don't know what will happen next.
"We are still seeing such a large range. It is a question that is up to you to answer."
QUESTION: Where do you see transmedia evolving?
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Blog post written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '13, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD
FLEFF is in full swing! And right now Evan Meaney, assistant professor of transmedia design at the University of Tenessee, and Elizabeth Miller, are setting up in Park Center Business School room 111 for their Transmedia Workshop.
Everyone is looking good and just this second something has poppe up on the projector. Stay tuned for updates!
TRANSMEDIA WORKSHOP: EVAN MEANEY
"If you are a hammer than every problem starts looking like a nail."
What happened was people started dabbling "beyond and through" different medias in order to solve different problems in different ways.
Mainly, the key is that if you are one person, but secretly another person, you can be both!
And after "the brief history of Evan Meaney" we are delving into the meat of the workshop.
QUESTION: What is your definition of transmedia?
"In the pursuit of being pure, I think about voids."
Pure is not in the ordinary sense, but in being clear. A void.
What are voids? They are null_sets.
Which leads into his project "Null_Sets" where he and a partner worked to produce software that converts data into jpeg images. Converting this data into an image removes the context from the information.
It is basically like making anything a "jpeg sandwich." Anything from Moby Dick to tweets to the entire human genome.
"It is really ordered chaos."
Data vs. Information
Data is made up of all the core items that make up something. What that something is displayed as is an interpretation of data as information.
For example, if you buy groceries, turnips, onions, etc... That is the data. When you make the soup later on, the soup is the interpretation of the data as information. But, what kind of soup you make from those ingredient can change drastically depending on how you desire your food. The data can be interpreted in many ways to create innumerable interpretations.
"I'm a terrible artist. Science is where it is at."
Think about it, scientists came up with a way to display images from nothing. Meaney says that this is incredible. They are the "Olympic-level geniuses."
And right now, Null_Sets source code and tool kit has been posted to the website and is available to all because "[t]hings are better when they are free."
This is a project that includes high-level coding, gallery presentations, and a participatory website. It requires you to learn a plethora of disciplines in order to ask questions that are revolutionary.
QUESTION: What are you studying? And what else are you interested in? Show your many disciplines.
"Never turn down learning stuff."
Thursday, February 7, 2013
Blog posting written by Erica Moriarty, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Intern, Houston, Texas
Just by opening a laptop, we are presented data with the goal of processing that data into information. But what happens in between during that process?
More importantly, what gets lost?
Null_Sets looks at the gap between data and information. The data is represented in the computer, or the quantities. The information is the more human aspect – how we interpret data.
Alongside Evan Meaney, Amy Szczepanski took on a new project to explore this gap between data and information. As Shawn explained in the previous part, Null_Sets takes a text as data and turns it into a jpeg image file. The project is a new form of art that puts large-scale data through an aesthetic lens. However, computer coding is the backbone behind this project.
Essentially, the team takes the 0s and 1s that is data to computers and translates it as the image instead of the text. According to the project’s website, you can see Hamlet as a jpeg and find meaning with the literature’s computer code. One could say the pictures look at how we interpret what the computer does.
However, looking at the image does not solve the question Shawn posed. Instead, new questions arise. When the computer translates the data, does it become information? Or is information only valid when we interpret it?
What do you think? When does your data truly become information?
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts '13, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD
Imagine that before you leave for work your roommate says that he/she is going to make soup for dinner. You get excited wondering what kind and mentally prepare yourself for the meal. But, when you arrive at home you find a series of bowls on the counter. One has broth, one has chicken, one has noodles, etc…
That’s not soup. That’s data.
Now, because you are starving you elect to just compile the ingredients yourself. Now you are looking at a nice, steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup. That’s information.
Evan Meaney and Amy Szczepanski with their project Null_Sets took on the idea of data versus information. What is what? And is it really?
So, if we look at this analogy of data and information and look at Null_Sets we can make some comparisons.
The project takes the text as data and converts it into a jpeg image file. Simple enough concept. The text must be data and the image is the information.
Wait. The original text is a book. Isn’t that information? It takes words and creates meaning with them. It seems to be both.
Now, the jpeg image must still be information, right?
But what if you could re-process the image and convert it back into the original text document? Wouldn’t that make it data?
It seems that data and information are very difficult terms to use properly. It also seems very situational.
But, another question is what is the original data?
Is it the 26 letters that make up the alphabet? So wouldn’t everything written be a derivative of that data. So everything isn’t quite as original as we thought.
Is everything a copy? Is everything data? Is everything information?
What do you think?
Stay tuned for Part 2, written by fellow blogger Erica Moriarty.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Blog posting written by Erica Moriarty, Documentary Studies '16, FLEFF Intern, Houston, Texas
She’s no artist.
In fact, her background is in mathematics and computer science. However, Amy Szczepanski, a professor at the University of Tennessee, helped mobilize the different worlds of visual arts and computer science last year when she won the Jury Prize in FLEFF’s Distributed Microtopias Exhibition .
Szczepanski and Meaney joined forces to produce the award winning Null_Sets, a project that explores the gap between data and information using digital images. According to Szczepanski, the idea for the project stemmed from an interest in combining large computing with Meaney’s work in the visual arts.
Szczepanski said, “The pictures look at how we interpret what the computer does.”
She went on to explain that the project takes the 0s and 1s the computer uses to understand data and looks at it from pictures instead of text. The data that is represented by a computer is numbers in quantity. Null_Sets makes the information more human by interpreting it in an aesthetically pleasing way through images.
The project looks at several ideas, including the gap between data and information. In looking at this gap, the idea of the glitch particularly interested the pair.
“The glitch looks at what went wrong in computing,” explained Szczepanski. “By understanding the glitch, we get a better sense of how things should be.”
Now, Szczepanski continues to look at what went wrong through the collaboration of different areas of expertise. She utilizes this year's theme of mobilities by moving between multiple areas of expertise to make a collaboration. Through her persistent work on Null_Sets, she mobilizes the discussion of artists and scientists everywhere.
In addition, Null_Sets physically moves. Through coding, text moves into images, creating a true representation of the movement of people, ideas, objects and environments.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Blog posting written by Shawn Steiner, Film, Photography, and Visual Arts ’13, FLEFF Intern, Elkridge, MD
I’m not the only person coming back to FLEFF this year!
Evan Meaney is a professor of transmedia design at the University of Tennessee. And, he is both an Ithaca College graduate and FLEFF alum. He will be returning this year due to his involvement with Null_Sets, winner of the Distributed Microtopias jury prize.
First, what is transmedia?
Meaney described transmedia as the communication of ideas through different forms. It has a lot to do with everything. It includes the science behind the work, the math in the program, and anything else that may be involved.
An interesting definition. Now, what is the big deal with Null_Sets?
He said that people are obsessed with ordered sets. Which makes sense, we like being able to understand information. But, this takes that data and converts it over to a new form (this time a jpeg image file). Now, we can look at and compare two things in a new way. Or we can simply look at the image created by a text file of Moby Dick and be intrigued with how pink is turned out.
And being familiar with the idea of FLEFF themes, Meaney has his own take on Mobilities.
Meaney was immediately reminded that there are so many systems in place to keep people from moving.
What immobilities can you think of?
Update: Profile: Amy Szczepanski written by Erica Moriarty. Stay tuned for a joint post on Null_Sets.
Monday, February 4, 2013
Blog posting written by Karly Placek, Documentary Studies and Production '15, FLEFF Social Media Manager, Monroe, Wisconsin
New media mogul Enrico Aditjondro thinks the future of media is mobile. Do you?
I was recently privileged to chat with Enrico Aditjondro, writer/producer/content manager for EngageMedia in Indonesia. While it may be a winter wonderland in Ithaca, NY, it's rainy and hot lately in Jakarta. Aditjondro juried for the Distributed Microtopias Exhibition , which recently announced Null Sets by Amy Szczepanski and Evan Meaney as the Jury Prize winner. I was eager to get the scoop on the exhibition prize selection process as well as the outlook on the future of new media. Enrico answered all of my questions and gave me more to think about regarding Mobilities. Check out part of our interview:
Karly Placek: So why did you choose Null Sets for the Distributed Microtopias Exhibition Prize? Also, could you explain the selection process?
Enrico Aditjondro: Well I collaborated with Dale [Hudson, exhibition curator] to analyze the work. Null Sets stood out because it found an interesting way to represent numbers and data visually. This project was trying to make numbers look cool and exciting, which is very hard to do! It also utilizes materials already online in places such as Google Libraries which was what we were looking for as well. You want to create something new but there are a lot of resources already out there to utilize.
KP: What impressed you the most about the overall work of the artists?
EA: The artists had a tough topic to address. It's not every day you have to think about a subject like microtopias. It had to have been challenging for participants to come up with ideas. They all put in a large amount of work to make creative projects that addressed the idea differently and looked stunning visually.
Coming Soon: Part Two of our interview, where we discuss EngageMedia and the rise of new media!