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Blur + Sharpen

Blur + Sharpen began as screening series devoted to innovations in moving image artwork; it is now a blog hosted by KCET Local, and chronicles new media art and artists in Los Angeles.

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RESFEST

Traveling festival of digital media projects, co-curated with Jonathan Wells and Sandy Hunter.

Video: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

“Video is everywhere,” the 2008 edition of The Horizon Report boldly announced, noting that the lower costs associated with video production mean that “faculty have more options than ever before to incorporate video into their curricula.”1 The sentence might also have read: “Bad video is everywhere!” Indeed, as Flip video camcorders and YouTube clips grow increasingly prevalent on campuses and in classrooms, and as citizen journalism vies with professional media production as a primary source of information, it is time to examine how those of us in higher education use — and how we ought to use — video, both in teaching and within emerging modes of scholarly production. It is also time to debunk some of the entrenched assumptions regarding the supposed divide between the word and the image, as well as the harsh distinction between amateur and professional production. Continue Reading →

Real Time Live

In March 2009, DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg announced that in conjunction with the release of the animated feature film Monsters Vs. Aliens, all of his company’s subsequent film projects would be produced and exhibited in 3-D. The gambit allows the studio to delineate clearly between the cinematic experience as it is enjoyed in the theater versus the DVD screening situated in the home – or airplane, desktop, mobile device and so on. The immersive film event could in addition prompt higher ticket prices and hinder piracy. Despite the wonders of 3-D, this attempt to revitalize Hollywood’s increasingly marginal role in moving-image entertainment remains merely one of many examples of a broad-based dismantling and reconfiguration of cinema at the turn of the century as a once relatively stable form splinters into dozens of image/sound practices, ones that reference the generally elided history of avant-garde experiments of the last century but also respond to new forms of networked, digital life that invite artful reconfigurations of time, space and social interaction.

Infrastructures in Virtual Learning

Part One: Introduction and Initial Questions

In an essay written in 1980 about potential directions in interactive media, video artist Bill Viola famously asked, “Will there be condominiums in data space?”[i]

If you consider the multi-user virtual environment Second Life a “data space,” then yes, there are indeed condominiums, and a lot more. As visitors to Second Life know, much of the design in Second Life aims to replicate material world structures, crafting virtual spaces that look and feel like the houses, offices, shops and classrooms we know from the physical world. This replication is designed to hide the code substrate upon which Second Life was built, but also, often inadvertently, to recreate traditional modes of interaction and hierarchies of power. Continue Reading →

Conceptual Vertigo

In their 2006 working paper “The Play of Imagination: Extending the Literary Mind,” Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown use the term “conceptual blending” to describe the ways in which players of massively multiplayer online games are able to take into account multiple worlds simultaneously, and in so doing, find “new and unusual opportunities for learning.”[i] One key to the success of these games, the authors argue, is that they are eminently social, but perhaps more importantly, the rich social fabric of the games “blurs many of the boundaries that we tend to expect such as the distinction between the physical and the virtual, the difference between player and avatar, and the distinction between work and play” (2). The essay, part of a growing body of work that highlights the potential of video games for learning and pedagogical practices, considers how conceptual blending is essentially a process for using “one’s imagination to read across boundaries” (2); it’s a creative act that contributes to ways of “seeing and making sense of the world” (20); it is a process that “does not simply project one space onto another or privilege one view and subordinate another to bring them into concert,” but instead constructs “something that is altogether new, a blended space that is able to account for the vividness and complexity of each perspective, doing violence to neither, by producing something that is undeniably true of both elements that compose it” (19); and finally, it is a process that is, the authors argue, especially pertinent to functional engagement in and with the 21st century.[ii] Continue Reading →

Graphic Convergence: Fella + McFetridge

Review of essay of “Two Lines Align: Drawings and Graphic Design by Ed Fella and Geoff McFetridge”curated by Michael Worthington at REDCAT. The piece was printed April 1, 2008 and is available here.

Toward an Algorithmic Pedagogy

Colleges and universities in the United States currently face a daunting challenge: how can we transform longstanding definitions of literacy to account for not only the vast social shifts wrought by the centrality of networked, visual and aural media, but epistemological shifts as well? Calls for reconsidering literacy in light of digital tools are multiple and varied in approach and orientation, ranging from the declaration that every grade school student deserves access to a computer by then President Bill Clinton in 1996 (U.S. Dept. of Education, 1996), to the articulation of multimodal literacy outlined by Gunther Kress in his seminal book Literacy in the New Media Age to the taxonomy of skills characteristic of a new generation of students who currently inhabit a digital and participatory culture listed by Henry Jenkins in his 2006 paper for the MacArthur Foundation, ‘Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century’; here Jenkins highlights the potential benefits of forms of participatory culture, including

opportunities for peer-to-peer learning, a changed attitude toward intellectual property, the diversification of cultural expression, the development of skills valued in the modern workplace, and a more empowered conception of citizenship (Jenkins, 2006: 3).

Continue Reading →