I am pleased to be one of the curator’s for In Media Res’s Vine and the Short Form Video week.
The 400 word blog post came out of some of the ideas Will Lockett & I had during the planning stages for our short paper for AOIR last winter. We decided to go into a different direction but I’m really excited about the potential of some of the ideas about embodiment, aesthetics and mobile phone practices raised by the blog post. 1
I was also able to coerce a good friend of mine, a PhD student in Film no less, Dominic Leppla to try Vine for the first time.
by Magdalena Olszanowski and Will Lockett
To better understand the creative capabilities of Vine’s limitations, we analyze its formal elements. The interface centers on a timeline: the video recording begins as the user touches the screen of their mobile device, and the recording takes place only so long as they’re touching the screen. Given this touch-and-hold interface, there’s no post-production editing: edits can be made by letting go of the touch before the end of the six seconds, framing a new shot, and then touching again to capture the next image in the montage.
One of the main reasons for Vine’s success is that its specific mode of video content production allows for, both, the appropriation of aesthetic tendencies, such as the GIF, and the distancing from other contemporary aesthetic tendencies, such as the faux vintage aesthetics of Instagram and Hipstamatic.
Vine’s developers insistently dissociate themselves from these apps:
Old things are beautiful, but new things should look, well… new. That’s why Vine doesn’t have a play button. It also doesn’t have a pause button, a timeline scrubber, a blinking red light, or dials and a brushed-metal finish to give you the impression that you’re using a dusty video camera. There’s only one nod to traditional filmmaking—the create button, which is an abstracted video camera. (vine.co/blog)
This description can be nuanced in two ways. First, Vine does have a play button; it’s simply the entire screen: Vine is relying on the user’s habituation to the touch screen interface to pare down the number of icons and avoid the simulation of an antique UI. Second, although apps such as 8mm (2010) and Cinemagram (2012) tried to use the faux vintage in order to popularize moving image mobile-social-networks—and Vine is perhaps wise to dissociate itself from these products—Vine is in fact relying on similar processes of appropriation to drive the development of new forms of individualized creative practice.
In other words, we’re arguing that, although Vine doesn’t use the faux vintage to do so, the basic parameters on Vine still allow users to tap into aesthetic attributes that are specific to preexisting image production technologies: particularly looping GIF animations, the jump cut, and framing tropes specific to the embodied practices of mobile image production. The former two appropriations are related to moving image technologies writ large, whereas the latter are common to mobile-device image production. These formal elements of Vine can be tied to the need to create an information-rich creative 6 second video loop within a system of constraints.
- Our short paper ended up being rejected.Two reviewers gave us high points, whereas one reviewer clearly missed the point with their line by line critique that sounded a whole lot like mansplaining. We weren’t the only ones to suffer from a strange bout of reviewer complications this year. The debates around it lasted weeks on the AOIR list-serv. ↩
I was asked to be part of this fantastic panel for National Communication Association (NCA) at the end of the month.
Legal, Ethical and Technical Challenges in the Evolving Online and Mobile Visual Paradigm
Sponsor: Visual Communication Division
Chair: Leslie-Jean Thornton, Arizona State University
Respondent: Tori Ekstrand, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Feminist Self-Imaging and Instagram: Strategies of Circumventing Censorship
Author, Magdalena Olszanowski, Concordia University
Instagram is a free, what I term, IB-MSN (image-based mobile social network), centered on personal user-uploaded photographic content with strict rules about its uploaded content, (i.e., “You may not post violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos or other content via the Service)” (http://instagram.com/legal/terms/). Like most censorship laws, the visual expression of sexuality and identity is conflated with violence and hate, reinforcing a reductive view of nudity as pornographic, and therefore inappropriate, unlawful, unethical and needing to be controlled. I argue that, despite Instagram’s content policies, users are finding creative strategies to maintain their imaging practices and circumvent censorship. Specifically, I focus on women and their feminist self-imagining artistic practices that include the body, often in nude or, what Instagram would signify in ‘sexually suggestive ways’ that employ certain technical and aesthetic strategies. These strategies include, but are not limited to, privatizing accounts, using photographic techniques to abstract the body and its parts, nuancing sexuality, but also taking the risk to create artistic nudes and dismiss the guidelines in favor of artistic communication. As such I ask, what are the effects of Instagram’s content management policies on feminist self-imagining practices? I historicize these practices within the lineage of 60s and 70s feminist body art that relied on breaking the boundaries of social and legal policies of what was ideologically acceptable as art. Specifically, I look to work of Carolee Schneemann and Hannah Wilke whose work was often dismissed because of its sexual content (Jones, 2006). Using a mobile methods approach, I conduct interviews with five popular female Instagram users about their: 1) practice; 2) precarious position of posting nude images; 3) strategies for artistic intent; and 4) sharing of work on such a closed controlled IB-MSN. In part, I will also engage in a discourse analysis of their photos and its content and context, including hashtags used, captions, and so on. Finally, I question the ideological subjectivity of the Instagram nudity clause considering its pejorative rhetoric of: “keep your clothes on” (http://help.instagram.com/477434105621119/) that is resonant of commentary towards many feminist body artists.
Shiny Happy People Holding Guns: 21st Century Images of War
When US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan filter their war experiences through visual aesthetics characteristic of contemporary mobile messaging culture, they produce a new visual discourse for war in the internet age. My analysis of 250 Facebook photos reveals an emphasis on colloquial representations of young adult life: hanging out, goofing off, playing games, and wearing costumes. For example, one image depicts two Marines in full desert camouflage posing for a picture while wearing skeleton masks. The Marine on the left looks down at his digital camera, either reviewing a photo or getting ready to hand it off to the “shooter.” The gear in the photo (masks aside) suggests that they are prepared for a combat scenario. Mortars and rockets could hit their base at any moment. The silliness and nonchalance captured in the photo seems antithetical to their physical locale, especially a condition of immanent danger. Most audiences would not recognize this as a combat scenario. Photos like this reflect the ways in which our shifting visual repertoire-with emphases on friendship, domesticity, and spontaneity- modifies visual discourses for contemporary war. If knowledge of war hinges on its representation, then what do these images contribute?
Author: Lisa Silvestri The University of Iowa
The image is now live: Appropriation, copyright and collaboration on Instagram
In 2013, with more than 100 million registered users (a category that has grown rapidly and steadily since the image-sharing social network was launched in October 2010), Instagram is the giant among photo-sharing services. Although the Instagram application works only on iPhone and Android phones and the Apple iPad, its popularity is fueled by being able to simultaneously publish photos elsewhere as well, including to Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Tumblr. Most users post photographs they have taken themselves, either with cell phones or other cameras. Any photo that can be accessed from the mobile device can be uploaded and published via Instagram. The program is famous for its ready-to-use filters to enhance and alter images. Many use them; many do not. Visual editing, however, is extremely popular on Instagram. Hundreds of applications (apps), mostly free or inexpensive, offer more complex and varied editing opportunities than the basic Instagram filters. Instagram provides unlimited comment space to facilitate discussion or photo details. Around those editing options, global communities have formed. One of the largest, Applifam, has more than 10,000 followers and an active membership from more than 20 countries, according to a recent survey. It offers daily challenges, coaching, and a nurturing climate. It recently formalized itself as ESAF, Electronic Social Art Foundation, based in France, and has held physical art shows of contributors’ work. Although this paper will contextualize Applifam by describing other groups, the focus is on the work produced there and observed over the past year. During that time, the group (led by a moderator) has grappled with ethical and legal ways to use images in a technological environment that makes image theft easy, a cultural “remix” environment that finds unauthorized uses natural, an artistic environment that values the symbolic statements of appropriation art, a legal environment that varies by country, and a socially collaborative environment that may or may not reward strict adherence to copyright standards despite the group’s policies. The result will be a rare look, through artifacts and comments produced by many people connected by explicit visual criteria, at evolving standards regarding our common visual heritage.
Author: Leslie-Jean Thornton Arizona State University
Remixing, reposting, and reblogging: Copyright law, visual works, and social media
Social media has changed the way people engage with content and each other. With social media, users can create, share, remix, edit, and collaborate together in ways unimaginable just a few short years ago. Social media has also challenged the ability of existing legal rules to deal with novel situations. Communication law-from defamation law to privacy law to intellectual property-has often struggled to keep up with digital technologies and social media. The purpose of this paper is examine how copyright law has adapted to-or struggled to adapt to-the rise of social media such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Youtube, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr, and other mobile video applications that allow users to post, copy, edit and remix visual media content. Because social media users are both creators and users of others work, it is important they understand both the rights and limitations of copyright law. The paper both explains the current status of copyright law as it applies to social media and visual works and offers suggestions for how copyright law might be reformed to better encourage expression and creativity on social media sites. First, the paper explains the basics of copyright law. Next, it explores how the law governs the use of visual content on social media platforms, discussing current case law and legislative proposals. This section focuses on fair use, the ability to use photos and videos found on social media, and linking and embedding videos. Third, the paper examines how websites’ and Internet Service Providers’ terms of service and technological architecture can control content and restrict the rights of users. This section examines technologies and policies such as Pinterest’s “no pin” code and YouTube’s content ID system. The paper argues that individual sites’ code and contracts must be designed to ensure a balance between the private interest in visual content ownership and the public’s interest in the dissemination of information and the promotion of creativity. Finally, the paper concludes with suggestions for how copyright might adept to deal with visual content in the social media age.
Author: Derigan Silver University of Denver
Back to the 1990s? Revisiting 20th century digital image ethics debates via Instagram
Concerns about photography’s faithfulness to a supposedly objective reality are as old as the medium itself. Those concerns were heightened, however, in the 1980s and 1990s, when digital technologies made it vastly easier to edit images in ways that occluded spatial and temporal separations. In journalism, such practices generally were regarded as deceptive or potential deceptive. News photographers and photo editors were fired, reprimanded, or publically criticized for deleting or digitally covering objects that were deemed offensive or cluttered the composition; for creating composites of two frames; for toning images for political, sociological, or aesthetic reasons; or for altering the content of images to create compositions that fit traditional media formats. Judgments tended to be rather black and white. Alteration generally was considered unethical, absent the defense that altering images with digital technologies would avoid harm to those pictured or merely reproduce standard darkroom techniques to allow reproduction of differences that the eye but not the camera lens could perceive. This paper argues that somewhat different, and potentially more complex, ethics-related questions are raised by news media uses of the mobile image-sharing application Instagram. One of the most prominent features of that application-besides traditionally square image shape-are the filters that users can apply to create special effects. Some filters can enhance photos aesthetically, producing by digital means images that could have been made in analog contexts only by careful attention to exposures. Other often-used filters digitally “age” photos, creating a nostalgic affect that suggests a collective memory of the Polaroid era. Used by photo hobbyists, these alterations to reality might at first seem to pose little concern. Questions arise, however, when filtered images become such a common currency of visual culture that they are embraced by journalists. This paper analyzes the evolving defenses of and objections to filtered images in journalism and compares the arguments around them to arguments about image alteration in earlier digital eras.
Author: Susan Keith Rutgers University
mid-15c., “communication to and fro,” from Old French entrecours ”exchange, commerce,” from Late Latin intercursus ”a running between, intervention,” from intercursus, past participle ofintercurrere ”to run between,” from Latin inter- ”between” (see inter-) + currere ”to run” (see current (adj.)). Meaning “sexual relations” first recorded 1798, from earlier sense “social contact and relations” (1540s).
1. connection or dealings between persons or groups
2. exchange especially of thoughts or feelings : communion
3. physical sexual contact between individuals that involves the genitalia of at least one person
I feel like this blog has just become an update receptacle and even then I don’t keep up, like the news of Part I of my interactive documentary, microfemininewarfare: exploring women’s space in electronic music being screened at ElectroFringe Fest in Australia last week. Last week, however, I was in New York being too much while chasing memories, tattoos, love & blue eyes. But also being a serious productive cat with meetings and potentials.
I’m having thematically recurring dreams in which a medley of my (ex)lovers come in and out of various situations. Every night is a different mix with different expectations. I’m also having dreams about Chiapas almost every night, still. Everything sticks to me like that. Is there a way to just have sex all the time? Like with breathing—you do other stuff but you have to keep breathing but then sometimes you take time to focus on breathing and find your body’s orientation. Could not the same be of intercourse? You just do it all the time while living life and then some of the time you focus on each other’s bodies completely?
2013 has been all about waiting. Is waiting synonymous with patience? I don’t know. I didn’t even realize that my snail tattoo is also part of that theme. Of course it is, yes, all of it. Sanyu told me something I’ll never forget: “When he is ready, if you wait, he will come back.”
Here is something better from Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse:
The lover’s discourse is of an extreme solitude
attente / waiting— Tumult of anxiety provoked by waiting for the loved being, subject to trivial delays (rendezvous, letters, calls, returns)
Am I in love? –yes, since I am waiting. The other one never waits. Sometimes I want to play the part of the one who doesn’t wait; I try to busy myself elsewhere, to arrive late; but I always lose at this game. Whatever I do, I find myself there, with nothing to do, punctual, even ahead of time. The lover’s fatal identity is precisely this: I am the one who waits.
Waiting is an enchantment: I have received orders not to move. Waiting is woven out of tiny unavowable interdictions to infinity.
Ever since I took part in a month-long intensive course in Chiapas with the Hemispheric Institute this summer, I cannot stop thinking about femicide, the gendered killing of women because they are women. Being concerned with violence, and violence against women is not a new thing for me—my personal history would never allow anything but. But… this has provided me with a new way and a new language in thinking about the gendered violence politic. Being exposed to the notion of femicide has also given me a strength to pursue some feminist issues in my art and scholarly practice I did not think were relevant, worthy or of import. I recognize that the brutal killing of women takes place everywhere and has been happening since the beginning of time, but I am interested in the particular case study of Juarez and why it was in the 90s that the concept of femicide came about.
I just finished reading:
The Femicide Machine
Sergio González Rodríguez
The Femicide Machine is a short, sharp, and dense contextualization of femicide in Mexico framed within neoliberal policies of Latin America and the USA, by novelist, journalist, political force, and PhD Candidate Sergio González Rodríguez who began his femicide investigations in Ciudad Juárez in 1996.
González Rodríguez focuses on the life of femicide as part of a connected network between neoliberal policy, drug cartels, the complicity of governments, and the consequences of that interplay on the transborder town of Ciudad Juárez. Femicide is the gendered killing of women because they are women often accompanied by sexual assault. It is made possible by contemporary political systems. The femicide machine is a fluid, disembodied assemblage that, in order to reproduce, is constantly multiplying and changing based on whatever it is feeding off of, like a Serres-ian parasite, making it difficult to manage or fight. In short, it is composed of violence and is “inscribed within a particular structure of the Neo-Fordist economy” (pp.9). It is difficult to define what it is, and as such, González Rodríguez is concerned with what it does and how it is able to do so —with unlimited assistance of governments that depend on it and thus create indifference and amnesia in their people. He notes in a BookForum interview,
“[the machine] refers to a whole system of relations between power and people that operates through economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions. It is an interconnected system that influences reality through abstract patterns and designed practices in order to achieve specific objectives: gain, productivity, and control. This is the logic of the new global order.”
The effects of the new global order logic on Ciudad Juárez are well defined in The Femicide Machine. The book provides a history of Ciudad Juárez, its maquila (manufacturing assembly) workforce boom in the 1950s and the simultaneous rise in poverty and violence. The government did nothing to account for this growth, and all basic social and health services could do was decline as more people needed them. Yet, more people kept migrating in search for work, and in search of crossing over to the USA. In turn, the Ciudad Juárez/El Paso border became of the most busy human transit nodes in the world. The difference of this transborder is staggering: Ciudad Juárez is one of the most dangerous cities in Mexico and El Paso, Texas, is stated to be the second safest city in the USA. How can this be? How do the governing bodies work together to create such a divide? How does the US ideology penetrate the Mexican multitude? Little is mentioned of religion’s role in the femicide machine, and I’m curious in what ways it relies, because it must, on Catholicism. Mexico is one of the most Catholic countries in the world.
When the legal workforce in Ciudad Juárez declined after the 2008 crisis it did not stop migration into the city, increased an illegal workforce, and amplified violence. Although the concept of illegal work needs to be questioned since the police force and the state depend on and work with many of the powerful drug cartels. This complicity is convenient in its efficacy to dismiss the systemic and systematic violence against women in the region, which finally reached public criticism in 1993. Statistics are sketchy to total how many hundreds of women have been victims of femicide because no one is able to systematically keep track. When a group of scholars concerned with violence against women wanted to set up a comprehensive investigate structure for each missing woman the authorities refused to put it into practice. González Rodríguez makes clear there is no justice for the women and for those that try to expose the tragedies.
The book finishes with an epilogue, “Instructions for taking Textual Photographs”. It’s a reconstructed story based on a femicide victim, Lilia Alejandra Garcia Andrade, from the point of view of her mother who in the end is also killed as she fights for femicido justice. That section and the following “textual photographs” were the most evocative, and cogently demonstrate where the author shines—in experimenting with form and style.
Ni Una Más
A 5521 kilometer-long open wound the salty ocean won’t let scar
“Wild tongues can’t be tamed, they can only be cut out” —Gloria Anzaldúa
My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Julianna Barwick (35), Slow Dancing Society (28) & Lubomyr Melnyk (19)
Your art/work is what makes me hold on & admire you. I’m in awe of the chance of experiencing the vast unknown w/in your work —with you.
Olfactory memory, how your tentacles suffocate me so tender
Brazilian jazz you make my love my body —Flora Purim, Airto Moreira, Astrud Gilberto …
Staying home to read poetry. Staying home to learn new words to love you with.
Chile’s made some great poets—Pablo Neruda: “As if you were on fire from within. / The moon lives in the lining of your skin.”
London, chasing light with you has been a pleasure / The moments our speeds cross paths I burst with energy & love for you with me.
My Top 3 #lastfm Artists: Lubomyr Melnyk (24), Slow Dancing Society (21) & Austra (21)
i’m eating a squash/spinach salad & drinking a gluten free beer I snuck in at the club in Brixton while everyone dances to drum’n'bass in Brixton
The sun bouncing around the English countryside & through my train window, hello there
“We are each other’s orientation devices. We self-alienate in relating by recognizing the other as both that which grabs us and that which turns us away and into the world.”
Lancaster, your tender sunset & wind out my window are so lovely. Thank you.
Attempts at sleep with music on headphones when not having slept for a really long time always imparts amorous beguiling images.
Love as responsibility towards the Other.
Where is my Colonel Sanders & his magic of “Abbreviating Sensory Processing of Continuos Information” ?