In Memoriam

For my video editing assignment, I was really interested in the French Realism style of not editing my video. I like how it shows how monotonous and common life is for all of us. French Realism shows that normal people like you and I can be protagonists in a story and we are in fact the protagonists in the stories of our own lives.

Seeing the video clip in class of the woman kneading meatloaf for 3 minutes and listening to everyone in the room squirm made me think back to when we listened to the full 4’33” by John Cage and could feel how uncomfortable it made us.

We are so accustomed to the American Continuity in all of our television and movies that we even try to emulate it in our everyday lives. We play music to give our lives soundtracks and post pithy one-liners on social media so we can feel as cool as a movie hero. We are so immersed in American Continuity, that listening to nothing for 4 and a half minutes or watching someone just cook without Gordon Ramsey yelling is almost unbearable.

This realization disturbed me. We try so hard to make our lives like what we see in television and movies that we cannot appreciate what we have and how we can make ourselves and our lives the best they can actually be. Therefore, I chose to make a video accompaniment to 4’33” for my project.

I don’t own the rights to the song 4’33”, so you’ll need to open it on your own at the same time.

Another McLuhan Post…


What makes McLuhan so easy to analyze is that again and again we are reading a chapter from McLuhan’s Understanding Media, and once again, he is rejecting the concept of linearity which he thinks characterizes the written word. Making wide claims with little to no supporting evidence, he does manage to pull out an interesting train of thought with respect to what we have read of Geuens.

Here’s an example of linear rapping

In the chapter Movies; The Reel World McLuhan claims that Russians, unlike literate people, cannot internalize linear cause and effect themes. This made me think of Geuens’ distinction between American or French video editing and Soviet video editing. One of the biggest distinctions between Soviet editing and the other two was how soviet films did not center on any specific person and instead told the story of a group of anonymous people.

If you liked the last video, here’s a relatively non-linear example

Although it mostly makes sense with respect to Geuens’ work, McLuhan actually made a strong claim that makes sense! I don’t know if McLuhan intentionally engineered an example of non-linear written words since one needs to read both texts to fully understand what they say, or if he just does a very good job of accidentally disproving that the medium is the message, but either way, it is very interesting.

Intention is Important

Are you serious?

Are you serious?

In Barthes’ Rhetoric of the Image, he details how to analyze photographs to find meaning in a difficult medium. Taking the time to interpret the linguistic, denotational, and conotational aspects of an image separately and holistically gives you a full understanding of what it is that the image is meant to convey.

I agree with Barthes wholeheartedly so far, but where his claims fall off is where he admits he is cutting corners: he is only discussing advertising images… Advertising images are easier to analyze since every part of them is totally intentional, but then how does this method of analysis apply to other photographs? Professionally composed photographs will fit into the same category as advertising. Hopefully, when you pay someone to take your wedding photos, they think about what the background, poses, and point of view might signify before taking any old photograph of the couple.

On the other hand, most spur of the moment or amateur photographs (which I will henceforth refer to as snapshots) won’t have the amount of planning put into them as professional pictures. Check out the image of me meeting MC Lars again and pay closer attention.

Are you serious?

Now answer me these questions three:
1. Why is one of the guys in a regular black shirt and the other in a black with skeleton designed shirt?
2. Why did the photographer choose to take the photograph from a position closer to the weirdo-beardo?
3. Why did the composers opt to place a glass partway visible at the bottom of the frame?

Here’s some topically relevant music to help you think:

Ready for the answers??
1.They are good looking shirts.
2. Because there was a bar in her way.
3. Because they didn’t want to hold it during the photograph.

I know this is a proof by example, but this shows that in snapshots, you can’t put as much emphasis into little details as you can in professionally composed photos. Unfortunately, figuring out what is and isn’t significant is nigh impossible in snapshots.

Not Necessarily Bathrooms


My photomontage is meant to be a commentary on the amount of time we as a society spend indoors rather than outside. Time spent outside by Americans is amazingly low despite the health benefits for people of all ages.

My montage consists of the mirror from my bathroom, some ivy and a tree from my yard, and myself looking confused about what is happening. My text, “Inside or Out” is less visible than I would have liked, but I wanted it to be that color to evoke the thought of plants.

Statistical Stereotypes

In Dave Chapelle’s video White People Can’t Dance, he jokes that white people can in fact dance, but only when listening to electric guitar. He does so to fight against the stereotypes that separate different races. However, I don’t think that is the point of stereotypes. Stereotypes come from some observations, even if those observations are skewed. Stereotypes of white people as being unable to dance probably come from the fact that traditionally ‘white’ music like country music has a very structured dance scheme that you either know or don’t- you can’t really improvise. Furthermore, ‘white’ dances are more about moving one’s body relative to the ground rather than relative to the rest of the body. Hall would argue that now that those stereotypes exist, they define white people’s continued inability to dance.

On the other hand, even in Chapelle’s sketch, the ‘white dancing’ was really bad. So what if instead of saying “white people can’t dance”, we said, “most white people can’t dance”? That fits my observations of reality without pigeonholing every white person ever. So how about another one…”white people can’t jump”? Jumping is one of the most highly correlated skills associated with athletic performance and we all have seen the predominant skin colors of professional basketball and football teams.

I personally can not dance, but I am good at jumping and yet I don’t get the least upset when someone says that white guys can’t jump. I know that what they are really saying is that most white guys don’t got hops, but I know that I am a statistical aberration from the norm.

Generalizations are rarely true across all individuals outside of mathematics, but statistics reign supreme in all walks of life. Say what you mean and mean what you say: don’t make generalizations of ALL people when you mean that there is a trend and go take a statistics class.

A New Perspective on Groceries

For this creative lab, I decided to take some photographs of the Whole Foods in Walnut Creek where I work. I wanted to show some views of the store that many people wouldn’t usually see and thus, point of view was the main guideline that I considered when using my camera.

Whole Foods Before Hours

Whole Foods Before Hours

In this first photograph, I used point of view by lowering the camera almost to the ground to make the store loom large. I also kept the rule of thirds in mind horizontally with the colors and vertically using the tree and the arch. There is still some ‘head room’ over the building, even though it doesn’t really have a head. Finally, there are lots of rectangles with some semicircles in the picture that make the architecture look nice.

My favorite kind of parking lot.

Empty Parking Lot. No customers.

This second photo it taken from the other side of the parking lot. It emphasizes the difference the point of view can make on a photograph. If you’ve ever shopped at the Whole Foods in Walnut Creek, you know how crowded this lot is all day, so showing it this empty is a novel view. This photo uses scale to give depth to the photograph. Again, the colors divide the photograph into thirds and the lines from the parking spaces in the foreground lead the eye to look at all the empty space like I intended.

The Aisles from Above

The Aisles from Above

This last photograph is taken from the back offices which have a window that looks out into the store. Although it is the photo that satisfies the fewest of the 10 guidelines for photo composition, it is my favorite. This picture definitely does not keep it simple. There is so much to see in here-aisles, lights, and products on the shelves- but I like that because it reflects on how much goes in to the operation of a grocery store that you probably don’t ever think about despite going in to one probably at least once per week. I guess we can see some shapes appearing in the picture, but the leading lines all lead out of the frame and makes it seem like there is a lot that you are missing out on seeing.