Archive for the ‘MA Media Studies’ Category

“Migrante Filipina” a webseries about Filipina migrant narratives will be launched next week with a pilot episode titled “Island Goddess: From Camiguin to Brooklyn.”  (this is a final project for the course on Producing Webisodes)

Migrante Filipina is not just a nonfiction webseries about Filipina women’s migrant narratives of nostalgia and diaspora, but more about human beings inherently being migratory subjects having the natural desire to move and get underway; taking risks, forming uncommon bonds, and dreaming of making it big while laughing along the way. It is about finding home in the most uncanny, sometimes cruel city as the Big Apple, while still facing the demands of having to look back and remember the home one has left behind.

Provides glimpses of the lives of these Filipino women—their exilic narratives, stories of love and betrayal, of defining identities, of the search for fulfillment, of creating interracial relationships, and everything in between.

photo by jean claire dy 2010 (click on image for larger size)

All I can say is that yesterday, I became a convert. First, I was suddenly enamored by Fall. And I can probably say it’s my favorite season. The colors and the light the sun brings during this time of the year are amazing for photography. Second, I’m a convert because I like Canon now. I used to be a Nikon die-hard fan. But now, it doesn’t matter anymore, really. Playing with the Canon 7D I borrowed from school was uber fun. I particularly like how it allows for softness in pictures. Betina, model in this picture and also my subject for the non-fiction video webseries I am creating, looks so stunning in this portrait.

It has been a long time since I picked up a dslr and went out for a shoot. Yesterday was amazingly exhilarating despite the cold (my hands were freezing). I want to do this again and again. Please?

Among the equally interesting and cutting-edge courses offered in the course listing of the MA Media Studies program at the New School where I’m currently a graduate student on my first year, two practice production courses have obsessed me. I look forward in anticipation for the day when I will finally be  able to register in these courses because somehow these courses embody what I really wanted to explore passionately for the last 5 years or so, except that I didn’t get the chance to explore these interests further back in Davao because I was so caught up with working for a living. Just recently when I begun to examine my life, forcibly to say the least because I had to for my academic goals plan last semester, did I realize that I have actually begun (at the surface) exploring these media art practices that I am currently wanting to engage in.

When I entered the Media Studies program last August, I was very sure of my plans, my focus: I will follow what I wrote in my study objectives and personal statement as part of my university application, I will follow the proposal I made for IFP when I attended the research training last year. In other words, I was confident that I knew what I wanted to focus on. I wanted to focus on the Documentary and Interactive Multimedia Storytelling. Period.

But as most cautionary tales of graduate school would have warned me, I slowly found myself in the middle of the semester feeling lost and caught in a dilemma. Having Creative Writing as my background by virtue of an undergraduate degree, for years I was caught up with storytelling. I wrote fiction and creative nonfiction, I even went into journalism. And even went into photography that always has to tell a story, such as photojournalistic practice. These experiences influenced my decision to pursue the documentary. But there was something about the documentary that was very limiting to me once I started in the New School. The idea of capturing reality always under the framework of storytelling or constantly framing it within a narrative frame, following almost the literary standards, felt to me like roaming around a cage. I wanted to pursue more of what images and sound bring when taken out of context, outside of the narrative frame, how they distort perception, how they betray/validate expectations. I wanted to transcend the narrative frame, leap out of its limiting fences, and just explore the unknown depths of storytelling. At least those unknown to me.

To some extent, I wanted to efface the trappings of the creative writer in me. Erase the mannered meaning-making, and look beyond the story the way it’s conceived. Because there is more to story than the creative writer. There is more to story than the filmmaker. Despite that storytelling as a cultural practice is still almost/often associated with them.

It even amuses me to have an MFA Creative Writing student (one of Johnnypanic’s classmates) tell me during one of those accidental coffee sessions with J that “wow, we’re still in the process of mastering what we can do on the page!” after I told him about my plans to explore interactive multimedia storytelling. As if the page is only defined within the bounds of the book! I secretly thought how amazingly limited his view is.

I discovered that sound is storytelling too. The noise of the subway train. The people murmuring behind me. The crowd in the Yankee stadium. Those audio experiences can be stories too.

And so despite that it was difficult to let go of the documentary just because it is easy and apparent to connect such practice with social change, development, all the other pre-requisites one must show a passion for in order to be called a social leader in IFP standard, I let go of that track, and completely plunged myself in unknown waters.

(One major factor that made me decide though was the fact that I also have a limited number of credits to take within the 2-year period. I have to make the best of my stay here, pursue something I’ve always wanted to do but never got the chance to do back home.)

But the course that was really responsible for making me decide to explore more of what I know and don’t know has something to do, ironically, with a word I often encounter in Creative Writing especially in Poetry. The word is Synaesthesia, “the cross-wiring of sensory perceptions.” Poetry tries to capture or embody this experience often, as literary critics say, with success.

But it is quite wonderful to know that words fail you too. Truly, synaesthesia is best explored in really dealing with sense perceptions in the different media. This is what the course on Projects in Multi-Sensorial Spaces offered to me–a window crowded with possibilities but not too cramped for me not to be able to breathe.

Here is the description:

Synaesthesia, broadly defined as the cross-wiring of sensory perceptions or a synthesis of the arts, will be the lens through which students will be encouraged to design and produce innovative media works that explore our relationship to the built environment and the urban experience. The course is organized as a theory and production seminar for which students will produce art installations with a heavy emphasis on intersensory experience. Lectures and readings will focus on models of perception, relational aesthetics, and phenomenological thought as they relate to the synaesthetic inquiry. Work reviewed in the lectures will include selections from Neo-Concrete Art, Kinetic Art, Fluxus, and New Media Art, among others. Assignments will include selected readings and group discussions, a series of cumulative digital media projects, and a final installation art piece to be exhibited at the end of the semester. Students will have the opportunity to use different kinds of video, audio, and multimedia production tools for project assignments.

But even then, it is still difficult to shake off the need for story without falling easily on the comfort zone of Creative Writing pillows. 🙂 Perhaps then I might be able to explore more and be crazily experimental with this other course I am also passionate about called Web Technologies in Media Projects. The sample works are mind-blowing and refreshing that I am very sure I won’t be bored and disappointed. Here is the description:

With the proliferation of Web 2.0 and mobile internet devices, network media technology is increasingly redefining ideas of community, intellectual property, privacy, mapping, the “public sphere”, etc.. In this course, we will engage the shifting digital landscape by creating dynamic web, video, audio, text, image, and installation projects. Students will learn the syntax and application of a variety of advanced web technologies such as Actionscript, PHP, RSS, XML, streaming video, and databases. We will draw inspiration from a range of artists/works, including Cory Arcangel, Siebren Versteeg, Jacqueline Goss, Judd Morrisey’s “The Jew’s Daughter”, Zach Layton’s “Network Sonification”, Cat Mazza’s “Knit Pro”, “The Telegarden”, and Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken.”

Unfortunately, this course isn’t offered this semester and not even last Fall 2009. I have no idea if it will be offered at all throughout my stay here. The other course on Multi-Sensorial Spaces is offered this semester Spring 2010 though BUT it has a pre-requisite which I haven’t taken yet but which I am registered in for this semester. I have tried sending a query if this is a regular offering. Hopefully, it is. Because really, I am so excited to finally be able to pursue something like this for my thesis project. So help me God!

one of my classmates in Ideas class wrote this very good summary of McLuhan’s point about the electric light having no content but actually he was talking about how some media are left unnoticed because they have no content, yet they are very pervasive medium of communication. I guess my point is perhaps it is time to revisit McLuhan in the media education programs in the Philippines, and somehow re-think how we approach the study of media. Just posting it here so I won’t forget.

“According to McLuhan the electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message, as it were, unless it is used to spell out some verbal ad or name. McLuhan points out, that “content” of any medium is always another medium. For the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.  The electric light escapes attention as a communication medium just because it has no “content”. And this makes it an invaluable instance of how people fail to study media at all. For it is not till the electric light is used to spell out some brand name it is noticed as a medium. Then it is not the light but the “content” (or what is really another medium) that is noticed.

One of my favorite quotes from Henry Jenkin’s book Convergence Culture that I read this semester is something I would love to send to all media practitioners, media educators, media consumers, students back home. And I shall post the quote here for us to think about it. I would love to generate response too.

As I finish writing this book, my own focus is increasingly being drawn toward the importance of media literacy education. Many media literacy activists still act as if the role of mass media had remained unchanged by the introduction of new media technologies. Media are read primarily as threats rather than as resources. More focus is placed on the dangers of manipulation rather than the possibilities of participation, on restricting access– turning off the television, saying no to Nintendo– rather than in expanding skills at deploying media for one’s own ends, rewriting core stories our culture has given us. One of the ways we can shape the future of media culture is by resisting such disempowering approaches to media literacy eduction. We need to rethink the goals of media education so that young people can come to think of themselves as culture producers and participants and not simply as consumers, critical or otherwise…” (p.270)

It might sound really ironic but I’m looking forward to the Spring 2010 semester, while honestly, wishing this Fall semester will be over soon. This semester was fun, don’t get me wrong, but most of my classes were introductory ones that sometimes bored me to death (Concepts class was a major exception as we had to produce creative projects every week). Despite the fact that I hated having to write the academic plan paper because I was having this academic dilemma whether to choose a non-thesis or a thesis option, I did seriously write the plan and earnestly plotted out a map of courses for the two years I’ll be in the Media Studies program. I have resolved though that I will have to talk to my adviser about the thesis dilemma. Turns out when I read the thesis handbook, it stated that for most cases, students who choose the thesis option, almost always have to extend for anther semester or another school year in order to complete it. And there lies the problem for me because my scholarship only covers 2 years (that includes my visa too), and I am expected to finish my degree by 2011. While I know there are several advantages to taking the thesis option, especially for people who are definitely going into academia, I have also thought about the advantages of taking the non-thesis option, that is I can take more production course, and be able to build a strong production portfolio, good enough to get into a MFA or Phd that focuses on practice-led research. A portfolio would also be good for job-hunting! And that is something that I shouldn’t forget because ultimately after graduate school, I do have to go back to the “saltmines” so to speak, and work for a living.

Writing the academic plan was helpful in numerous ways. One major thing that I have learned from the process is that every plan, or objective, or goal that you have churning in your head, when you write them down in words, they become clearer. In the process, you remember certain moments that illuminate some topic you would like to pursue. In fact, sometimes, writing the plan lets you stumble on a possible topic for a major project or thesis!

I would definitely recommend students to go through this exercise. It is not as torturous as you think it can be.

Now that I have finished writing my plan, I finally feel more confident about the courses I registered in for Spring 2010. While I was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to enroll in the two classes I was excited to be in, that included  a class on new directions in the documentary, I am satisfied at the same time to have registered in the courses that would lead me to my definite academic goal.

So next semester, I am registered in the following: Time-based media, Design, Interactive Media and Digital Media Theory. Four subjects to concentrate in. Three production courses, and one seminary-theory course. I know this is tough considering the time I have to spend in most production courses, but I am seriously hoping against all hopes that I will have eventually adjusted to my new environment by that time, and will have embraced academia once again.

By then, I guess things will be a lot easier. 🙂

Oh yeah, in addition to all these classes, I still have to enroll in Photography class at the Parsons or at the International Center for Photography. Let’s see…

This is when I said honestly in class that I really don’t know what I’m doing and that I am really lost. So when I wove this slideshow together, I just relied so much on intuition. Unlike in my other projects, especially in photography when I have really clear concepts in mind. This one straddles the emotional and artsy design structures (Laybourne’s terms for types of slideshows).

I wanted to capture these barrage of images, MTV style, related to the anxiety caused by the swine flu scare. It is more internal, I supposed. And wanted to really work within the limits of the slideshow as a medium. I edited this on iMovie because I still don’t have Final Cut Pro in my Macbook Pro. Soon, soon.

When the professor saw it, she immediately told me that there are so many images and she suggested to use black screen in some parts. I don’t know if I understood her correctly. But here it is, pillage me if you want, or comment on how crudely it was done. There’s no harm in trying. 🙂

Next week, I’ll start shooting and editing footage for my two-channel video portrait installation piece. I’m verrrrrrry excited about that. This time, I’m not lost, and I have a clear concept. Got a storyboard too. 🙂

I love learning really. Love it. There’s no end to learning. 🙂

PS: The other images on the slideshow were taken under creative commons license. There is no intention to break copyright laws.