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May. 7th, 2014

keyboard

Northern Spark, June 2015

I will respond to comments on yesterday's post later tonight, but: I just had a talk about vids and vidshows with Karen Tanaka, one of the office staff from IAS (the program where I'm on fellowship this semester). She was at the talk I gave last week and is now excited about vids (she's one of the people who wants to see Pacific Rim after seeing "King and Lionheart"), and she had an idea: Why not have an all-night vid show at Northern Spark?

Northern Spark is the Twin Cities' annual dusk-to-dawn arts festival held on the second Saturday of June each summer. It features thousands of people hanging out in various venues around town to see art, theater, film, dance, music, and new media produced by hundreds of artists.

The recently restored Northrop Memorial Auditorium, where IAS is based, has a small theater that, as Karen pointed out, would be perfect for a series of vidshows.

There's a lot to think about before I commit to trying to put this together, but I have to say that I have kind of fallen in love with the idea. I picture a series of 50-minute themed vidshows, like VividCon. (In fact, I'm wondering whether it might make sense to ask the VJs of some of my favorite recent VVC vidshows to let me use the shows they put together, crediting the VJs as well as the vidders, obviously, and checking with vidders for permission.)

It's too late to make it happen for this year--I don't have time to get the money for the space, for starters--but I may have to start applying for grants for next year. The necessary equipment's all in the theater, so the only expense would be the space itself.

I'm trying to think of the various populations it would make sense to reach out to: local media and SFF fans, obviously, but also students, especially film and art students, the film festival crowd... I need to keep thinking about this. And I need to think about how I, personally, feel about asking vidders to screen their work at such a public and not-specifically-fannish event. But when I think about how the reaction of everyone at last week's presentation was so positive and so "OMG this is really amazing art!", about last year's exhibit at the Museum of the Moving Image, about how much fun it would be to do this... I get excited. :D

Thoughts? Ideas? Cautions? Qualms?

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May. 6th, 2014

pen

Music in vids: a little background

As mentioned in my last post, I've spent much of this spring reading about music and thinking about how what I'm reading might apply to vids. This post is some background about why I've been doing that.

more background under the cutCollapse )

But as I worked on the book, I just kept coming back to the importance of song choice, and I started trying to articulate why I think music is so important to vids. There are lots of answers, but the ones I'm currently working with are these:

1) Genre. No music, no vid.

2) Emotional effects. The music does most of the emotional heavy lifting in vids. (In this, vids are a lot like narrative film and TV, where music does a lot of the work of telling us what to feel about a scene.)

3) Structure. Vids are structured around music at both macro and micro levels. (In this, vids are the opposite of most narrative film and TV, where music is composed/chosen and edited to fit the visual narrative.)

4) Creative process. Song choice is important not just to the vid but to the vidder. For many of us, the song is what sparks a vid idea in the first place; in other cases, it's the thing that has to be found before the idea can get off the ground. It guides clipping, editing, and often the creation of effects. Think about it this way: pretty much any verb you can think of related to the creative processes of actually planning and making a vid (as opposed to technical stuff like exporting or uploading) is going to be related in some way to the song choice. And even where a given vidder is thinking more about the song's lyrics than its music, the whole point of songs is that the lyrics are welded to the music; they can never be completely disentangled.

So those are some of the key ideas and assumptions that I started out with when I began digging around in the fields of music and sound studies to see what I could find that might help me think through how I see music operating in vids themselves and in the way that vidders describe their creative processes.

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Apr. 30th, 2014

professional geek

IAS presentation on music in vids

I've spent the semester on a research fellowship at the University of Minnesota's Institute for Advanced Study. Fellows meet weekly for lunchtime presentations of our work in progress. My presentation was today; I was supposed to be talking about the role of music in vids (which is the topic I've been researching this semester as a break from the book). Except I didn't actually get very far, because people had so many basic questions about vidding and fandom -- really good questions, but still. I had an hour and fifteen minutes, and I still got through only half of the material that I wanted to, most of which was the inevitable "here's what vids are and why they matter" introductory material and not the new stuff I've been thinking about.

So I am hoping to use this blog to post snippets of the actual research and thinking over the next few weeks.

I did, at least, get to show some vids -- not a full-fledged vidshow or anything, but a small selection rather than just a single vid (which is what I usually have to do when I'm presenting). It was really important to me that this group get to see more of a variety of subjects and styles and genres, even though of course it's still only a tiny fraction of the range of things vids are and do.

Here's what I showed:

sloanesomething, “Star Trek Dance Floor” (Star Trek)
[personal profile] violace, “King and Lionheart” (Pacific Rim)
[personal profile] kass, “Becoming Brothers” (Friday Night Lights)
[personal profile] laurashapiro, “Hurricane” (Farscape and Battlestar Galactica)
bradcpu, “Moonlight” (Sleepy Hollow)

I report with great pleasure that, after the presentation, a total of five people told me that now they really want to see Pacific Rim, Sleepy Hollow, and/or Friday Night Lights. Well done, vidders!

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Mar. 15th, 2014

keyboard

New essay in TWC: fan work and the gift economy

Issue no. 15 of Transformative Works and Cultures came out today; it's a special issue on fandom and/as labor, and I am really looking forward to reading all the essays. (This is not, for the record, something I say about all the academic journals to which I subscribe.)

And now for the shameless self-promotion: one of the essays is mine! I wrote "Fan work: Labor, worth, and participation in fandom's gift economy" for the Symposium section, which means that it's relatively short and less ponderously academic than some of my other essays. It grew out of thinking about Rache's essay "The Fannish Potlatch" and Karen Hellekson's "A Fannish Field of Value: Online Fan Gift Culture" and agreeing with a lot of what's in both those essays but also thinking about what I wanted to add to the conversation about fandom's gift economy and how it works--and in particular thinking about what what I wrote at the end of this post from last year: "the behind-the-scenes work that goes into reccing, reblogging, running awards sites, administering prompt memes, tagging for meme archives, etc., is why I get so frustrated with definitions of "fan work" that focus primarily on writing fic and making vids and ignore or handwave all the other kinds of work that make my daily fannish experience what it is."

An excerpt from the TWC essay:
While art objects may be the gifts most publicly recognized or validated by fellow fans, and while these gifts are indeed a crucial part of fandom's gift economy, we can better appreciate the scope of fandom's gift economy if we recognize that fannish gifts include not only art objects but the wide range of creative labors that surround and in some cases underlie these art objects. We can better understand the relationship between gift exchange and community formation if we see fandom as a system not just of reciprocal giving but of circular giving. And we can better evaluate the relationship between fandom and production if we attend to not just the giving but the receiving of gifts.


This is the first thing I've published in fan studies that isn't specifically about vidding (although it is very much informed by my own experiences with vids and vidding, especially note 4, in which I am totally poking fun at my own history as a vidder). It was fun! I might do more of it. On the other hand, it turns out that I have a whole lot of things to say about vids, so that will probably keep me busy for the foreseeable future. :D

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Feb. 12th, 2014

pen

Writer woes

You guys, I am rapidly becoming convinced that my secret superpower is my apparently unstoppable ability to hide my point at the end of a paragraph/section/chapter/whatever. It is not a good superpower. I don't want it.

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Feb. 5th, 2014

pen

"Space Cadet Fineass and his harem of otherworldly escorts."

For reasons that don't need exploring at this juncture, I have just spent most of an hour reading through selected write-ups from strangefandom, and let me tell you, I needed that laugh this afternoon. Oh man. *wipes eyes* Good times, good times.

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Dec. 13th, 2013

keyboard

UPDATE

This morning I logged into the fandom class Tumblr to check the notes on the Tumblr version of yesterday's post.



How am I supposed to get work done today when I just keep thinking of this and laughing? HOW?

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Dec. 12th, 2013

keyboard

SO THIS HAPPENED.

I try to keep this journal focused on research-related stuff rather than teaching stories, but I think that once you read this story you will see why I am making an exception.

So last week in Fan Cultures & Fan Creativity we were talking about representations of fandom—we had groups looking at posts from [community profile] as_others_see_us and OTW’s news of note—and Orlando Jones came up in conversation, as he is wont to do.

One of my students decided to tweet him to let him know, and despite our classroom’s crappy WiFi, she prevailed! And then this happened:



WHUT.

But then she didn’t get a response! So today in class she tried again. I cannot adequately describe the hilarity of this scene—she's composing away on her laptop, reading out her hashtags as she types them, and everyone in the room is exhorting her "COME ON COME ON" "OMG" "HAS HE RESPONDED YET"...



#wecanthandlethis is a pretty accurate description of class at that point; we were essentially having a 25-person meltdown. There was actualfax shrieking, some of it from me. The collective sleep deprivation did not help (Dear students: GET SOME SLEEP), but I suspect that even if we’d all been well-rested we would have been LOSING OUR MINDS. And then, as we were sitting there, he favorited the tweet. At which point I dismissed class, because I could not top that. We were done.

BEST LAST CLASS EVER.

Of course I had to post.



And he favorited that tweet too. BRB DYING.

AND THEN when I logged into Tumblr I found that another one of my students had followed up on Tumblr:



Her tags: #I didn't make any shrill noises when I got this notification #oh no #not at all #orlando jones is my favorite

I just. I HAVE LOST THE ABILITY TO CAN, as the kids say these days. I still don't have the faintest idea how he found out about the class, but I do not fucking care, because this is the most surreal and hilarious thing that has happened to me in I don't know how long, and I LOVE IT. And the class was in absolute hysterics. AS YOU CAN PERHAPS IMAGINE.

I fucking love my job. BEST STUDENTS EVER. Also, ORLANDO JONES GETS HIS OWN TAG.

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Nov. 8th, 2013

pen

I can't decide whether to call this a victory or not...

...but I have just discovered, upon re-reading, that I hid the first paragraph of this chapter in the middle of page 10. Which is good, because it means I've already written it, but also a bit embarrassing, because honestly, what was I thinking?

The book, in case you were wondering, is still not writing itself.

I am strongly tempted to have a beer with lunch. I don't even like beer.

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Sep. 10th, 2013

TV: Buffy

Fandom class on Tumblr!

I keep coming across things I want to share with the students in my fandom class--bits of fandom history, fandom meta, stuff like that--so last night in a fit of... something... I made a Tumblr for our class. When I showed it to them this morning, the reactions ranged from "Whatever, dude" to "...wait, my teacher knows about Tumblr?" to "Awww, you're tracking tags and everything!" Most of them seemed proud, if perhaps slightly bemused.

This is an experiment, and its success will depend largely on what the students decide to do with it. But hey, three people are already following (and class let out less than an hour ago), so who knows? I think it could be fun.

Much of the class's online activity will take place in private online spaces, but the Tumblr is public, obviously--so if you're curious about what we're reading and discussing in the class, it will be a good way to eavesdrop.

And if you're on Tumblr and want to play: I will be tracking the tag #fandom ic. If you see something you think we'd be interested in, tag it when you reblog so I can take a look. :D

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