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No Cash? Advertise In This Space
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Howdy. I'm Justin Hall, a freelance writer living in Oakland California. I spent much of the last two years living in Japan, researching the social impact of new technologies and electronic entertainment. Now I write articles, contribute to Chanpon, Game Girl Advance and TheFeature.
Thanks for stopping by this old web site.
Photo by: Robin Hunicke
October 31, 2004
I'm a lifetime student doing research into digital culture and electronic entertainment. I need some transcribing work done - specifically, transcribing a video interview with a video game designer within the next few days. This is for a Gamasutra article due all too soon.
Pay is $10/hour for 40 minutes of conversation (it will take you longer than 40 minutes to type it).
Here are the details:
I give you a web address for a Quicktime file; you download it, listen to it and type out the words as best you understand them into Word Processing or Text Editing software.
Some literacy with digital culture or the video game business will help you understand the subject material easier, which should make the typing easier, and the transcript more reliable.
Either way, time is of the essence. I need to get some kind of transcript turned around in the next few days. This is a single assignment; there's sure to be more work ahead if this works out well.
If you're interested, send me a relevant resume and your phone number. Thanks!
this is a photograph of myself, I took in the mirror at the Opus hotel, at 1:45am Saturday Night, Halloween. Just coming from a fantastic fun party filled with kind edgy weirdos. I had been to a party the night before, in another neighborhood outside of Vancouver - more affluent, less entertaining. More space, more people. But this was somehow energizing. I felt sexy surrounded by unusual folk.
So I was looking at myself briefly. More like I wondered and knew what I look like. I had accreted costume - long underwear beneath, a shirt, a vest, a shirt over that, cuff links. And this hair I don't bother to cut. Glitter, some makeup. I start looking like something between decided and flexible. I guess I don't always know what I'm aiming for. But I like plunging forward. This evening I found myself rewarded by a woman who unbuttoned each of my clothes to chew on my chest, another woman who hugged me long and close, telling me about her home as her husband stood just behind me handing out mushrooms, and a third woman who shared a kiss just a bit before the doors closed. So it was an evening of contact, brief out of town traveling fool man. Wondering where his spirit lies, for now on the road. I like to feel, and show that on my skin.
Happy halloween - my costume was me. I was going to say "freak" if anyone asked but people kept suggesting I was a member of Hanson, this band made up of young earnest blond white guys with hair that has length enough to have the same silly tails in back that I have, or one woman suggested a member of Duran Duran. Much more interesting to have people project a costume on to me while I keep dancing.
I'm in Canada for a Nokia-sponsored Ludicorp-hosted conference on the subject of Play. Brilliant people talking architecture, game design, sociology and motility. In Vancouver, my first visit to a city that mixes Asian and Scandinavian in the midst of breathtaking surroundings. Nice to imagine myself moving to a city for beauty and urban planning alone. Daylight savings struck while I'm here and it's a blessing to have another hour to sleep up - I've got to wake up to continue my video interviews here at the hotel, pack and head back into school.
Dancing to a messy and completely enthusiastic 17 piece band crowded up onto a plywood stage at a high school gymnasium, I did some reckoning: I've spent the last few weeks studying and working to see how I can do well in my schooling. How I can honor my education and push myself to engage and edify self through partnership with peers and professors. What's lacking, lacking, missing, absent, taste of something familiar tonight was dancing in my long underwear blissfully smiling happy hair in front of my eyes dazed sober and staring up at the hard drumming conga woman keeping time alongside smiling at me dancing ecstatic and deciding, remembering that I liked that kind of serendipity without fullfillment. To join some unpredicted gathering and participate fully until I lost myself in movement. I need to practice more odd behaviour that accords with my theories of thoughtful living. I declare. More totems. More graven image making. More
Then I decided to stop thinking to much about what I need to do and let out a deep breath and continue shaking my little titties.
October 28, 2004
Letter to My Landlord
I have a few complaints about my living situation. After repeatedly hoping to get some time with you to resolve these issues, I am writing this letter to detail my grievances.
This is a list of outstanding issues on the Culver City property:
On a more positive note, I include this photograph of the brugmansia tree. This week, it seemed to have nearly a billion blossoms.
I won't tell you about the sizable leak in the roof over the storage area behind the office - most of the boxes back there are beginning to swell and show signs of new life. Whatever you're keeping in there might be better with mold, but I doubt it. The gentleman you hired to make repairs did a fine job tying up some garbage bags under the leak - I hope you rewarded him well for work you could have done just as easily when I first alerted you to the problem.
You're a new home owner; congratulations. Do you think you might have bitten off more than you can chew? It's a lovely place, I hope you can keep it that way.
new orleans book fair
The New Orleans Book Fair - This Weekend!
October 27, 2004
Finished another short film this week.
I was working through a theoretical concept here, the exploration of "augmented reality." What if Google search results covered objects in the real world? How would we interact? What's a good survival strategy existing amidst virtual information saturation?
The video stars Julian Bleecker, a mobile technology researcher and very patient man. He was incredibly charitable to go along with this; I chose him because of his expressive face, his eagerness for odd technology art, and his occasional forays into performance during "Critical Studies in Interactive Media" class he's teaching me this semester.
Cody should be recognizable from the first video of the semester; her playful spirit was perfect. Joanne is an old friend and willing accomplice. Edward I met through Souris; he's a consummate storyteller and struck me as a good person to read onscreen.
And then there were the dozen or so people who showed up to do odd stunts with office supplies. I ended up directing six or eight people, hooting, shouting and hee-hawing behind the camera. I had a terrific time, because these people were so creative and fun to work with. Vincent Diamante, Anita Stokes, Jen Stein in the café scene. Dan Leopard as a man. Erik Larsen, Mark Luntzel, Aaron Meyers,
There are voices in the film, provided by a gal I've known since I was three years old Leigh, and some participants in a workshop I attended last weekend about how blogs and wikis and backchannel might work in graduate schools. So shout out to my "Social Software In the Academy" homies who gave voice to this production: danah boyd, Daniel Chamberlain, Scott Fisher, Richard Hodkinson, Mimi Ito, Liz Lawley and Sébastien Paquet.
And finally I had a number of consultants, helping me flesh out my subject matter and storytelling. Chris Wetherell deserves special mention for taking a break after his Citizens Here and Abroad show to read my draft script and give me tight feedback. Other invaluable advice came from Felicia Day, Scott Fisher, Mark Gray, Howard Rheingold, Liz Supley, Brandon Walston and Daniele Suisa.
The whole work is based on Scott Fisher's research on Wearable Environmental Media at Keio University. These films here might provoke you as they did me; I couldn't help but make a short film in response.
[Can anyone help me distribute this 50 meg video over BitTorrent? That would be great. I tried reading the Make Torret FAQ but my whole body wanted to switch windows - too much going on to tease that out just now.]
Here's a self-critique prepared for Mark Gray and Daniele Suisa's film class where this project was presented today:
Filmmaker: Justin Hall - Date: 27 Oct 2004 Title: Posted - Project No: 2
PERSONAL CRITIQUEINTENT: (How you want to affect us)
Scott Fisher has a long history of experimenting with Virtual Reality. His latest research, hosted by Keio University in Japan, is the Wearable Environmental Media project. If you watch the videos hosted on their web site (http://wem.sfc.keio.ac.jp/wem/) as I have done, numerous times, you’ll see a staggering vision for the future of physical space.
Fisher’s latest project brings the virtual into the physical. Wearing a computer backpack and looking through a large headset, his test subject can see trees and landscape. Superimposed over these trees are identification tags – information about the flora and fauna of the area. Wander the world, clicking for context.
It’s a prototype, a proof of the type of world foreshadowed in Howard Rheingold’s book Smart Mobs. With powerful mobile computing devices (aka cell phones), empowered with GPS units (location tracking by satellite), we should some day soon be able to append and engage virtual data tied to physical spaces. Rheingold refers to this emerging technology as “augmented reality.”
I find this concept, and these early proofs-of-concept, both enticing and alarming. I wonder what life might look like, if you woke up in “augmented reality.” If your environment was tagged with additional information, background and context on objects. Whether you like it or not!
Film seemed to be an easy way to simulate that, and experiment with that feeling. Post-It notes are already a popular means for personal information tagging in real space, so I made those notes portals into virtual space. Rather than spell out the lessons, I used voice-overs, performed by a group of academics researching the role of technology in the classroom (participants from the Social Software in the Academy Workshop at the Annenberg Center for Communications). A series of search topics, “man” or “friend” or “jo” or “tree” were fed into a site called “Googlism” which draws simple declarative statements from the search engine Google. The idea was to reduce complex virtual data into simple declarative statements. Layered and spoken by unseen voices when the character approaches the object; the effect should be curious and overwhelming!
That’s the opening of the movie. A funny sort of fish-out-of-water moment. But then we see that people can be tagged as well as objects. Tying search results with individuals could lead to a routine sense of “too much information” as we delve into accurate, erroneous and excessive context on our relationships, both intimate and with strangers.
Ultimately, the protagonist learns a lesson that is carried over from my last film, Robin in Wonderland – there are strange worlds surrounding us. We enter them, often unwittingly, at a pace we can not control. The best way to understand or enjoy the experience is to join, to engage, to participate.
The main character is played by Julian Bleecker. I chose him for his large eyes, performative nature and eager engagement with odd technologies. Bleecker is a mobile technologies researcher and faculty member in the Interactive Media Division at the USC Film School. By the last scene, he has been surrounded by artists, students and provocateurs, bent on having him join their tagging. He picks up the Post-It notepad, and begins labelling the world around him. Whatever the future of augmented reality may be, I hope to see it permit the same sense of play we see in the last scene of this short film.
SYNOPSIS: (What we see)
A man writes himself a note before going to bed, a sticky Post-It note, and posts it on his wall, where he’ll see it in the morning. When he wakes up, he sees that the Post-It from last night is blank. Reaching out to touch it, unseen voices read facts about the wall. These voices follow him, over-sharing about objects and people as he leaves his house to understand this strange world. With help from a prolific native Post-Iter, he finds a colony of people eager to create augmented reality.
• Experimental sound – voice over and room sounds. I spent a lot of time tweaking the volume levels to create smooth transitions – gosh I hope the sound comes across well.
• Experimental sound – voice over and room sounds. Maybe too spare. Music might have helped carry the mood.
WHAT I WANT TO LEARN TO DO BETTER IS:
• People remarked on my manic energy as I directed – listening to my footage, I can hear myself chanting during the final scene – “Go! Go! Go! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!” sort of whooping people up into a Post-It art frenzy. That was sure fun! I had a great time. Weeks before, I’d read an article about David O. Russell and his unusual style for directing I (heart) Huckabees. I’m not sure that fed directly into my behaviour behind the camera, but I like the idea of feeding off of the energy and excitement of the actors and crew. Certainly, seeing a half dozen people drawing and pasting notes on each other under a big tree because I’d asked them to was a big hoot.
October 21, 2004
justin performance optimization studies excerpt
Excerpt from "Justin Performance Optimization Studies" : Task Envisioning
the new technique has shown promise. "Task envisioning" has been broadly implemented in the subject's work habits and it seems to have yeilded more higher rates of information output during computer sessions. The subject's testimony follows:
"Yeah, task optimization, it makes total sense. I envision what I intend to do before I sit down at the computer. Do I want to finish that letter? Revise my Clock project draft? Write a first draft of that proposal? By thinking about what I intend to to before I sit down, I stay more focused."
Under observation, the subject does seem to be visiting external web sites. We have the feeling that the subject might be avoiding aimless occasional surfing, but our studies in this area have probably been colored by the subject's relentless personal narrative vocalization. He just keeps talking about his own process for productivity!
Here's another brief bit of his remarks that we transcribed:
"Yeah, I'm aiming to reduce my unfocused time on the computer - if I have free time, I don't just check my email. Or I don't just see what's happening with news. I think, what creative work do I want to make? What outstanding communication obligation do I want to finish?"
Of course, the subject still manifests moments of his previous behaviours - he still visits friend and associate weblogs, browses cyberculture and incessantly checks news related to the upcoming presidential election. That last area of attention is expected to diminish after the upcoming President is inaugurated next January.
Web surfing seems to have become a more constrained "inbetween" activity; a tangible amount of his email reading seems to have been offloaded to his mobile device, the Treo 600. He's dangerously begun to correspond over email during driving in his car. More from the subject on the subject:
"I'm working to be more focused about my projects; rather than meandering through a few different things a day, trying to put out fires, I work to resolve things when they're in front of me, so I can move on. If I'm away from my computer, driving home maybe, or brushing my teeth, I practice task rehearsal; imagining myself finishing things, budgeting my time. Then web surfing becomes a pleasure activity, something I do when I've finished other things, when I have too short an interval to invest in a project, but I want to stay informed. Actually, constraining my reading online makes the reading better, because there's more new stuff on BoingBoing when you don't check it four times a day and novelty is refreshing, whereas rereading an unupdated web page is a sign that I'm wasting time."
The subject's words seem to match his actions somewhat; whether this is a deep-seated shirt in his behaviour or a temporary adaptation to a particular workload remains to be seen.
October 17, 2004
something resembling focus
It wasn't the best, most moist, most meltriffic slice of banana bread I'd ever had. But it was the first slice of banana bread I'd ever had that I'd backed in this house.
I'm in a living way - electing many recent nights to stay here, cleaning up, moving things around. Sorting books. Watching the debates. Praying to Jebus that Kerry might win the Presidency. Pleasuring myself with these four walls and my unpacked possessions. About two weeks ago I realized I was losing my footing, I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I dropped out from socializing and dating, I switched my daily soundtrack from Raekwon to the Magnetic Fields, from the positively driven "Only built for Cuban Linx" to the absolutely sublime "69 Love Songs," and I began to focus intently on schoolwork and academic research.
The payoff? After two weeks of something resembling focus, I looked up last night and realized two things:
a) my I Ching clock is ahead of schedule. My next short film is done with shooting, and the footage is captured and ready to be edited - ahead of schedule! My work researching Social Software in Academic settings is progressing for an upcoming seminar on the subject.
b) My work preparing my house for a last minute BBQ to celebrate the end of my second movie shooting ended up saving me from the rain -
"winter is coming" some families say, and here it has arrived in Los Angeles - rain the last two nights, strong, hearty, steady rain. This is about the closest we come to winter, my neighbors say. I had moved my power tools, my boxes, my unfinished carpentry out of the way, under tarps, in storage areas - all out of the way so I could have ten friends over eating Korean BBQ and Mediterranean snacks. And after they left, as the rain fell, I looked up from my computer and smiled - prepping my home for a party had prepared me for the winter. Except for the cloth-covered furnitures I'd been using outside; I had to run and drag them inside, tracking mud all over my floor. Then I did some mopping, and I was glad I hadn't gone out rocking that night.
Maybe it's all the Jane's Addiction I listened to for my formative years - when people ask me, how are you enjoying to Los Angeles? My mind skips for a moment to all the people who are, at this very moment, in this very metropolitan area, scoring heroin for a three person orgy underneath some giant autobiographical sculpture, and I think, well, my life is pretty tranquilo. I haven't engaged much of the madness here, except as I've confronted my own need for stimulation and decided to work to anchor myself in school and home.
The good news is that I've found some resting place that I enjoy. Baking man! Joni Mitchell blaring, I'm singing along, mashing ripe bananas, feeling very macho.
I did have to fire someone. Basically. First time in my life! I think - I had to say to someone, we've been working on a project, you've been helping me build a bedframe and some benches for the backyard, but you've blown me off three days in a row, and five hours of carpentry has somehow taken over six weeks and it's still not finished. My natural inclination is to extend infinite hope - but I began to feel screwed. I meant I think the guy I was working with had a problem. "Yeah! I'll come by tonight and we'll finish it up!" and then not coming by and not answering the phone calls. The next day he'd ring my up, "I got tired. I didn't feel like calling you. But I'll come by tonight!" Etc.
I decided that I'm not stupid, I mean, I want to work with people who want to do good work and spread happiness. This guy was just overextended. I buried my urge to reach agreement on the subject over the phone; now I've got to find someone to start work in his stead, but I'm relaxed to think that I don't have to rally this reluctant collaborator.
Life presents a steady stream of adventures. Why bother reaching for "the next level" of challenge? It seems comfortable to remain where you are facing what you can imagine. I guess what I realized recently is that "Where I am" - school and a home - is a giant challenge I have only begun to wrassle down for tickling good times, and I can spend an entire weekend hanging out here, with friends but mostly alone, cooking, cleaning and feeling like a lucky punk.
October 11, 2004
extending jazz context
I have listened to a lot of Jazz in my day; I had a radio show in college which was called "Ain't No Bebop Rehash" which was a truth in double-negative - it was, in fact, a bebop rehash. I loved the uptempo of Bebop and Swing. Later I began to dig Miles Davis's later work, what bridged jazz with all sorts of other stuff that sounds to me like Matmos today. And I spend most of my jazz hours now with people like Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, Jan Johansson - the piano players.
Friend Wayne (recent photo) has continued his exploration of the genre and the artists and the state of that form in today's world. He wrote a piece on his Jazz History site Harlem.org called "itunes versus jazz preservation." Perhaps trolling online for a jazz curmudgeon, the Boston Globe found his piece and published a shorter version on their web site.
In his piece Wayne argues for a sort of extension of meta-data; that is to say, let the Jazzophiles and historians annotate the songs, so that when we play them, we can learn about them the same way a jazz lover holding an LP could have soaked in the cover art, the liner notes, the personnel lineup. Today, MP3s and digital music files are often lacking in all the context of collaboration and history. Without reading album covers I never would have found many of my favorite musicians who only came to my attention when they played piano on some fantastic song on a legendary album. Everyone has the greatest hits; let the curious see where the greatest hits can lead them.
politics is personal
All politics is local. Ethan, a good ally from my college days suggested that I've been alarmingly apolitical here on Links.net.
Which is funny because I spent so many hours reading newspapers and news magazines and political websites and loading up Electoral-Vote.com - I've been eagerly awaiting all the hours of my life I'll have back after this election is over. Not that politics will end, but much seems to be riding on this contest. As one of my most politically observant family members put it, "It will be a catastrophe if that asshole gets re-elected."
Still my web site doesn't reflect that - I don't rave much on a national (or international) political scale. I don't have an "elect John" or "bury George" banner up here. No flaming rants with slanted facts railing against the opposition. No sense of a clear enemy! That was my biggest objection to Fahrenheit 9/11; it worked to create and exploit difference.
In spite of my misgivings and the better angels of my nature, I've found myself recently wishing the US Democrats would be more direct and even unflinchingly nasty in their critiques. Bush's team strikes me as expertly manipulative, why can't the other side match their malicious malapropisms? Then I catch myself - how could I wish for more ugliness anywhere, ever?
I remember George, my step-father, telling me once about Adlai Stevenson (Wikipedia) - he was smart, he was articulate, maybe too much so to win the Presidential elections of '52 and '56. Maybe I should hope the smartest candidate knows when to play dirty?
All politics is personal. I work for gender and race equality in my daily demeanor. I promote the cause of compassion for other people, urging and practicing the benefit of the doubt. I work to avoid saying negative things, work to find the best aspects of our human natures. Wouldn't I wish the same from my politicians? People who maintain optimism and intelligence and generosity?
I meet a lot of people and I make an effort to see their side of the story. If you know people, chances are you know people with different stands on complicated issues. Heck, some of my relatives live in Red States, and are Red Voters!
This year America is being portrayed as this dramatically divided nation, with people living close to water leaning liberal and people living on the land keeping conservative. That's an easy way to describe a complex picture: I'm much more interested in the potential for "Purple State Poltics" - all people, all regions have light and dark, red and blue - entrust oneself to change.
If I manage to submit these voter registration papers in time, I'll vote for John Kerry. I've found Bush to be a divisive, aggressive, impolitic doubletalker. Far too effective at media hoodwinkery for my tastes - after all his shenanigans with talking up pure evil and weapons of this and that, taking us into an expensive messy war for vanishing reasons, I can't believe half the people polled in this country still believe he can be trusted with responsibility.
That leads me think I have more to learn about fear and greed and compassion and truth and understanding - Bush seems to offer something that people like I guess, an assuredness that's comforting in a time of conflict. But I believe think he has unduly upped the level of global conflict, and I'd like to see that come down. I don't mind nuance. Then again, no one I know directly died in 9/11, maybe I'd be more angry and eager for war if they had. But somehow I'd like to think not. I don't like war, I don't like the death penalty; I don't think states should kill.
Anyhow all of this is messy and complicated and hard to sort out - I can spin myself endlessly through all kinds of "what-ifs" and "but then you's." Meanwhile these final days of the Bush regime seem to demand straight talking, out of the corner of your mouth. But nailing down an expansive personal political philosophy inevitably exposes preference augmented by ignorance. I don't know enough about global politics to make elaborate judgments about the necessity of war. I would sit out on all this angry ranting online in favor of concentrating on my homework, but the stakes are high here. Mostly because of the Supreme Court and the environment. Bush says Clarence Thomas is one of this two favorite justices; Clarence Thomas who took Thurgood Marshall's seat? That brings tears to my eyes. But hey, maybe Thomas is a decent man with a strong belief in the First Amendment and other positions I'll come to appreciate if I age into financial well-being? Yesterday's clarity is today's stupidity, after all.
Today I have a values clash with George Bush; I don't like to dwell on it because it would seem to mean I have a values clash with half my home country. Admitting I have a values clash with half my country would seem to make it harder to relate, understand or work alongside the people around me. So I work to remain open, to bury the clash and emphasize the shared circumstances. We want to be happy, we want other people to be happy. We want to do right by our parents, and by our children. That said, I'm going to encourage people to vote for someone who will allow for more nuance in this current debate over war and peace - John F. Kerry.
October 09, 2004
for the first time since August, I am spending a weekend at home along. I rigged up a music playback system in the living room, turned on my HiFi, and set about to sorting books. Fingers over old paper, familiar covers, extracting bygone bookmarks - I was relaxed and happy in a way I haven't been in months. I felt grounded!
October 08, 2004
star wars legacy
Some philosophy spoken by a puppet in a space opera film from my childhood has affected my writing I believe -
a few times a week, I backspace over the word "trying" - I've worked to eliminate "Try" from my vocabulary. I often replace it with "working" - as in, "I'm working to get ahold of my popcorn addiction." I don't like "try" very much, as it seems non-committal. Are you doing something? Or trying to do something? "Try" lacks fullness of action. I don't think I'm too muscular in my prose or outlook, but I do value full-body participation.
October 07, 2004
Robin in Wonderland
Another short film, from the second half of the Tokyo Game Show footage.
Experimental, a cavalier evolution of the Kuleshov experiment. Music primarily by Blevin Blectum, with Kevin Blechdom joining her on one track; one track by Wobbly, and one brief bit by LSR - members of Sagan (their new CD/DVD is out this fall - well worth purchasing). The short stars the talented and patient Robin Hunicke, and a lot of expertly arrayed cosplayers.
This is the final-ish draft of the film I turned in for a class assignment; I focused on creating a sense of interaction between Robin and the various characters:
This is an earlier draft of the film, which meanders through a greater variety of Tokyo Game Show footage, and feels more like a travel video, and less focused and experimental. Talking to Amy helped me make the cuts between the two versions; this one is the director's cut - suitably bloated:
Here's my self-critique on the first version posted here:
Filmmaker: Justin Hall - Date: 5 Oct 2004 Title: Robin in Wonderland - Project No: 2
INTENT: (How you want to affect us)
On a trip to Tokyo for a video game conference, searching for a film to shoot, I found these “CosPlayers” (Costume Players) – people who dress in costumes representing favored heroes and villains from comics and video games. They had filled a large area at the Game Show, effectively creating a sort of “zone of virtuality” where common human aesthetics did not apply.
Wandering amidst these elaborately costumed performers, I was joyously having my notions of beauty and physicality challenged. I wanted to create a short film that recreated some of that feeling. Rather than solicit specific, artificial performances out of these actors, however, I thought I might film them in their natural state, as many of them posed for still photographers – assuming positions to convey modes of power from fictional worlds. I was enchanted by the steady gaze in their eyes, and then delighted by the moments when they broke that steadiness - when they giggled at me, or when they bowed and smiled - suddenly breaking the illusion of being a mystical warrior to again become a teenager.
I had a protagonist - my friend Robin Hunicke who was also inspired by this setting. I filmed her photographing and even participating in some of the reality-suspension we saw. Afterwards, I filmed her face close up responding to my directions, gathering reaction shots that could go alongside the close-ups I had of the CosPlayers holding poses.
You could call this an erotic film, in that it's largely plotless; instead there's a sequence of images designed to propel the user into a sensual experience. Here that sensual experience is augmented by radical reconfigurations of beauty - my hope is that the suspension of ordinary rules of attraction augments the viewer's entry into a zone of virtual pleasure.
It was an experiment with techniques used in the Kuleshov experiment - Robin's gaze prompts the viewer to relate, emotionally. It is through her eyes that we see, but at the same time, she is regarding us, or she is regarding something in our world. Through the screen she emotes at us, amidst characters out of context who tread a wavering line between posing and playing. Media, performance, reality, virtuality, truth, beauty, these things are all scrambled. The addition of a soundtrack raised the stakes – all the music in "Robin in Wonderland" is drawn from compositions by Blevin Blectum with some Kevin Blechdom, some Wobbly and a little bit of LSR – all electronic musicians who skillfully wield samples. This added a poignant mixed-up sonic punch, helping me layer recursive media and performance to create sensual overstimulation.
SYNOPSIS: (What we see)
A young woman stumbles into a strange world. Guided by a smiling cherub and a strength-brandishing cat-woman, she meets a series of characters: a contemplative, a fierce guard, a beautiful blue-hair. A filmmaker appears throughout to overstimulate her, but with the help of her eager guides Robin finds her own bliss and becomes ready to engage this new world directly without guidance.
STRENGTHS: (list by priority, one line per item)
• Sense of play
WEAKNESSES: (list by priority, one line per item)
• Uneven editing - at times, the short can seem unduly jumpy or stuttery.
WHAT I WANT TO LEARN TO DO BETTER IS:
• Be more specific about characters and their motivations – only after I finished the first video draft did I write down my loose ideas about the various characters and their motivations. That cohered the narrative enormously, and it would have been better to do between logging and editing, and perhaps even during filming.
October 06, 2004
there's a reason
I like you. I want to make that clear. I meet a lot of people. And I like you. Maybe it's the way you giggle when I look at you long enough. Or maybe it's the way your smile makes me tremble. Just a little bit. Just enough.
I have been busy. As we agreed. There's a reason I'm crazy. It may be my overeagerness. Maybe that's why I haven't called. I don't want to talk to you when it makes so much sense to spend time with you.
And why shouldn't I? Everything falls into place. I remember staying up with you lovely from 8 to eleven, filling the hours with dense smells and tastes and good conversation. It soothed my soul and made staying up until 4am afterwards to finish my homework that much more motivated. I was sober, able to see through to the end of all my objectives.
I don't want to be too calculating. I can't help it. I'm trying to hold this together. I'm alone, drinking Tecate and ruminating on my pains. I don't want to burden you with any emotion. I write it here instead, air my dank heart publicly - you can decide if you want to take this as yours or not.
That CD rang truest at the end, there's a sort of deeply melancholy vibe to the entire work but the electronica track resonates deeper in my digital memory. And still the patterns are clear - there's androgynous men who sing somewhere between genders here. Chet Baker. Jeff Buckley. When I played you Willie McTell you were enchanted by the ambisexual quality of his voice. It was something I'd been enchanted by for years that I hadn't thought about in some time.
You asked me if you weren't odd enough. In different words. I think about that. That's the danger of truth and doubt - speaking gives power to ideas. Sharing doubts - it's wild. When I speak of my interiority, my emotional life, I feel like I'm giving voice to too wide a range of ideas. All the things I think about? I've come to fear - there's too much to imagine, if I express it, I feel like I'm inviting a lively cast of demons to join me on the stage of my life. No, I say most of the time, these days, better I should entertain the demons backstage and be the sole presenter of the bold face.
But the bold face hasn't held up so well, has it? You like my vulnerability, I think, I believe, I'd like to think I guess. I like to imagine that my tender side, my doubtful side appeals to you. I guess I want to be loved. But maybe not too much. I just can't give I just don't know. I'm putting together another CD list for you. And I got a CD I want to buy; I was thinking I would open it, rip the tracks down to listen to myself, and then give the CD to you. I hope that's okay - that's not crass, is it? I don't own a shrinkwrapper. I want to share this music with you. To make you sing. And I have a book I want to buy you. Things I want you to read and talk to me about, your curious mind. I would read it myself and talk to you. But I have reading for school!
School ain't an excuse, I guess - it's a choice. Just like debt. All I've taken on. I just want to let you know, I'm not ready for kids. Actually, that's me - I have to tell myself. I don't have to tell myself. I know it! What am I doing? If I want to make a family with a peer, I really got to get my shit together. I'm a fucking student! Again. Debt, and subjugation. Shouldn't I be making some money? I want to make fatherhood right. To understand the failure of my Dad! And make glorious his successes - his semen, my own. Something like that. We can adopt, I don't care.
See, I'm sorry D, the stakes are so irrationally high here! I can't help it. I might blame my astrology reading. I don't have too many other metaphors. I don't have male friends who convey this same sense of deep bonding craving to me. I'm just ready to take up sharing a house with you, but we haven't spoken in a week. It's arbitrary who we pick to settle with, isn't it? Somewhat - with so many ways to meet people, we might as well stop meeting people now. Sure, there's tits and ass I haven't yet stuck my nose into. We can talk about that. Still, what I relish is homelife - being here, where I am, with someone. But how can I attract another bird when my nest feels so unfeathered?
There are things we're supposed to do to prepare for marriage. Like courting, dating, relating. I can do all those things, well I tell you, in a moment of confidence. I can romance your pants. I know politesse. You deserve it. I can tell you that, and perform it with a straight face. But I'm not ready, I'm not ready to be a fully committed man. Because I have homework, a student job. I've got a lot of work
This is why I haven't figured out how to call you yet. Why I sit here jerking off instead of reaching for your belly and breasts. I'm a fool. Lost! Hah! And happy, deeply, somewhere. I know I am. Stress-related rashes and pimples aside, I'm a deeply satisfied man. With an evolved interpersonal dialog, for one, thank you. By the window, if that's available.
So let's have fun! I'll call you, yes. You're so compelling! I see you in my buddy list each day, online chat available, hello, what are you listening to? I'll try not to be serious, but all this is in my head - I still want to merge, I'm sorry. I'm nearing thirty and I still imagine myself pressed up against a woman so tight I trade her my penis. We can carry these old fantasies when we successfully act normal so much of the time, right? So much unspoken during the day. I'm sorry I haven't called. This is why. Deep breath! I like you.
Having It All
I don't think I should expect to have it all - all desires set before my eyes. But I've discovered lately, that, yes! I can have it all!
My own house to set up, a fun education, meaningful work, exciting travel, a rich range of friends and collaborators, a stress-related eczema on my fingers and toes, a painful pimple just behind my ear. And a sharp ache in my abdomen when I move around, urinate or laugh!
October 04, 2004
Schwabian Matrimony at Stone Pine
My cousin Steve was married this weekend. Some of my family, from my Mom's Nebraska/Colorado side, and some people from Germany, his wife Iris's side. There were a few relatives able to interpret, and lots of smiles and gestures in between.
The wedding took place at Stone Pine, an estate in Monterey California. A cluster of luxury-ish houses for rent on grounds surrounding a thoroughbred breeding business. Lots of nice walks, and the authentic smell of horses to accompany the scenic vistas of hills and riders. There were activities galore - croquet, tennis, swimming, riding. I opted for editing video and shooting arrows.
October 02, 2004
Am I looking for compulsive behaviors, or do they find me? I've just spent four hours straight in the same chair, gleefully editing video. I love this! Mixing music, images, movie clips up together.
What makes it slightly strange is that I ducked out on a family gathering, for my cousin's wedding at Stone Pine in Monterey California. I'm here with my Mom and other relatives, including a cast of Deutschlanders with ready smiles and about as much English knowledge as I have German.
I have homework to do. And it's true. This video I'm editing I'll turn in to satisfy some class requirements. But I'm also motivated. By fun I guess - and perfectionism. And media making. Mmmm, tasty mixing.
The downsides? I have other work to be doing - interactive homework, and research on social software. And I should, I will get to that. I'm grinding my teeth! I think I don't notice how clenched up I get when I'm enjoying myself. My bowels are in knots - I'm definitely verging on sickness again. But I've mostly kept illness away since my shingles! So I drink Emergen-C daily, and I work to control my compulsion. Age and sobriety have me heading to bed tonight before I would call this done. Follow the fun,
My current video project is to take the other half of the Tokyo footage, besides the interviews, and work to convey the feeling the CosPlayers gave me when I looked in their altered eyes. Mixing music helps immensely - I'm using a lot of Blevin Blectum on this project. And some Wobbly. Looking a lot at Robin's facial expressions!