A Very Visual New Year

So, after a bit of a hiatus, Alpha Bravo Charlotte is back!

I’ve been humbled at the positive response this blog has received. As we move forward into the new year, things will only get better for female artists. I am constantly inspired by many artists, men and women alike, with their sincere and beautiful portrayals of what it means to be human through art. So in honor of the absence of ego, and the truth in art, I wish you a very visual new year!

As for me, I am finishing up somethings in order to move on to others.

Here is an experimental video I just finished, and below are some on set photos of what is currently being edited!

Big Love Xxx

 

 

Alpha Bravo Charlotte IMG_3826 IMG_3931 IMG_3933 IMG_3955 IMG_4007 IMG_4011  IMG_7572IMG_7621

Moonlit Film Festival: A SUNY Purchase Senior Project

As some of you may know, my senior project is The Moonlit Film Festival and Art Installation.

I am excited to share this magical night with all of you in April, 2014.

I am currently taking submissions for films to be shown, please go to: https://moonlitfilmfestival.jux.com/1781304 to submit film and video art work you are passionate about.

Moonlit Film Festival Submission  SUNY Purchase

The Amy Poehler Click Moment & The Feminists of Parks and Rec

Image: Amy PoehlerIt is nearly impossible to discuss Amy Poehler without gushing. Even as a Hollywood power player, her genuine spirit seeps through her work at every level. At first, its hard to pinpoint exactly why she’s so great.

 

In feminism, there is something called your “click moment:” suddenly, you are bombarded with a small epiphany. It marks the time when you wake up to the sexism embedded into everyday life, but moreover its the feeling of putting a title to the discrepancy you’ve always felt.

Fans of Ms. Poehler have a similar click. She has a history in hilarity;  she held seven years on SNL and had roles in absolute classics like Wet Hot American Summer.  Yet there is more than just well timed joke to Amy.  As she’s shown with Smart Girls at the Party , Amy seems to have a grand plan to make the world a better place. Still, only after inhaling the first four seasonsof Parks and Rec during a particularly humid week mid-August, did I have my Amy Poehler click moment: she has crafted the most wonderful representation of women on television in an ensemble cast.

Amy Poehler Parks and Rec Feminisim

      Amy, like her character Leslie Knope, reminds us that its okay to be excited about things. When was the last time you were truly excited about things? When did that come out of style?!

Parks and Recreation (does any one ever call it that?) is one of the most hilarious shows on television. Amy pitched it at a time when The Office was still in its prime, and her character began as a female version of Michael Scott. It soon found its footing however, and  gained a different set of values, which were told in an optimistic tone. It was a refreshingpolarity to the humor on most shows (including The Office), which at their core, stems from a negative place.

The great accomplishment of Parks and Rec is twofold: the humor deals with feminism without mocking it, and that the description of the show isn’t prefaced with “feminism” at all. Poehler promotes such a positive role model for young women, yet this is never the opening pitch. It’s hilarious and well written, and thats why its good. Consider how many films or works of art that are labeled feminist straight off the bat, and subsequently discussed only as such. Poehler perfectly executes a pathway around this trap; the show makes a statement by not making a statement.

 

 

In life, Amy knows the immense importance of female friendships. Watching Parks and Rec, I remember thinking there was something strange about the portrayal of Leslie’s and Ann’s friendship. They were nice to each other, supportive, and didn’t talk abut men constantly. Their conversations were not a plot device to forward “more important” ongoing romantic relationships.

I myself have taken to calling my friends “beautiful sunshine flower” a lá Leslie’s endearing words for Ann. In a world where comedy is alway using shock value and negatively to “push the envelope,” Poehler’s humor is a breath of fresh air, showing that nice guys and gals can still be funny.

Love is also represented in a unique way. The storyline of the show doesn’t depend on long, “will they, wont they?” relationships.

For example, it only took two seasons after meeting him for Leslie to marry Ben, the love of her life. As opposed to many sitcoms where the joke comes from couples putting each other down, their marriage is healthy and happy, and still their interactions are incredibly funny.

amy poehler parks and rec

Leslie’s boss, the iconic Ron Swanson, gets married when he meets a girl he likes with no fuss. He is the quintessential manliest man of all time. If he had a dating profile-he wouldn’t, because of his penchant for being off the grid-his interests would be hunting, alcohol, steak, and most likely mustaches. Yet, he himself states that his life has always been filled with powerful women, and his new wife is the the best representation of them.

Another example of equality is April and Andy’s marriage. It is based on mutual love, as well as  a love for FBI role play.

On Parks and Rec, there is no token feminist character. Poehler doesn’t depend on typical feminists stereotypes. At first glance, they might not even seem like feminists at all. Each character is rich in layers of their unique personalities, that capture the idea: This Is What A Feminist Looks Like.

Restructuring Community: Human Connectedness in the Digital Age

Why Do We Connect?

Without question, the genesis of the digital age has forced us to redefine how we think about communities. The widespread existence of virtual communities is no longer news. We are accustomed to online forums, encompassing social networks and tiny niche ones, all of which have made the extension of interpersonal relationships and self-expression an almost seamlessly transition reality to virtual reality.

Whether human connection can not only truly exist in the virtual hemisphere, but likewise fulfill emotional social needs; is an important and genuine one. New media has the power to harness a global community, yet are we really connected? This question has inspired the work of innovative art projects which explore what it means to be part of a community in the digital age.

We have always formed communities for survival. Connecting with others has always helped us organize to nourish ourselves both physically and emotionally.

A sociologist named Ray Oldenburg came up with a theory explaining that we exist in three different communities. In his work The Great Good Place, he suggests that we have separate places to live, to work, and to go for conviviality. That third place, he argues, is the place we go that is based purely on interest. Using the example of a coffee shop or a bar, this third place is “the heart of a community’s social vitality and the foundation of a functioning democracy. They promote social equality by leveling the status of guests.” (4). In many ways this third space has moved online, with Facebook leading as the ultimate example.

The crucial difference between an irish pub and an online network  is that the space now exists in a personal public space. Everything you love, hate, and love to hate is accessible to almost anyone without your control over the time or place of access. This new phenomenon has interested some of today’s artists, who have put together projects manipulating raw emotional user-generated content.

Anonymous Communities

Working at a global scale,Post Secret and We Feel Fine are two projects in particular recognize an apparently blatant yearn for connectivity, which manifests itself in heartbreaking and harrowing ways in these interactive projects.

Post secret was started by Frank Warren, who one day decided to distribute postcards with his address written on them, telling people to write their deepest secret and send it in anonymously.

He could not believe two things: the sheer number of secrets he received, and the depth in the quality of the secrets.

 ps

postsecret-5

postsecret

He put them all on a blog and after garnering an enormous success rate, Frank quit his job to work on the project full time.

Postsecret’s success is due to its aynonomous nature. Larger networks lack authenticity, yet they are trying to fulfill emotional needs  for people to connect to one another.

This anonymous and viral community is helping people know they are not alone. Warren believes his work helps people deal with lonliness. “Paradoxically I think that there have never been more people on the planet, there has never been more communication technology, but I also feel like there has never been more loneliness. My hope is that through PostSecret people can feel, not necessarily less alone, but that we’re all kind of alone together,” he states.(1)

Recently, he has taken the next step in his project; taking autonomy out of the equations.

Another incredible take on human connectedness in media is the ground breaking project “We Feel Fine.”

This is an interactive map of people’s feelings throughout the world. Created by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, it is in essence a data collection engine that uses an algorithm to scour certain  blogs such a livejournal, blogger, and flickr, for sentences that have the words “I feel.” What happened was this:

In the video, Harris demonstrates his interest with connectivity:

“I think people are very similar, but I also think we have trouble seeing that. As I look around the world, I see a lot of gaps, and I think we all see a lot of gaps. We define ourselves by our gaps: language gaps, ethnicity gaps, age gaps, gender gaps, sexuality gaps, wealth and money gaps, education gaps, religious gaps…but I think that actually despite our gaps, we really have a lot in common.” (3)

We seem to want to connect through on a more deep level then in the past. These two projects create an anonymous community where its main goal is to fill people with less loneliness.

  1. Elphick, Nicole. “The Man Who Collects Our Secrets”  dailylife.com. Jan 18, 2013.
  2. Prewitt, Catherine. “We feel fine: Online artwork documents a web of emotion” Pastemagazine.com June 10, 2009
  3. Harris, Jonathan. “Jonathan Harris: The web as art” TEDtalks. Filmed Dec 2007
  4. “Ray Oldenburg.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Last modified on 15 March 2013

Collective Intelligence: Social Networks for Artists

Social networks are a relatively new phenomenon, and we are using them in ways that fundamentally change the way we communcicate ideas. 

Ten years ago, conversation over the web was a much more linear process, and less an integrated one. Much like a telephone conversation, the only information being shared is from one to another. While people did have conversations with multiple people online, i.e. chatrooms, it was not the norm.

Now computer mediated communication through social networks is the main way we communicate. 

In today’s art world, a field thought to be less interactive than most, the importance on social networks online is skyrocketing.

Collective intellengece in the art world is creating very interesting conversations about the age old question ‘what is art’. Now more than ever, art exhibits music concerts, even theater productions encourage interactions such as tweeting and facebook posts. With the audience and the artists being so closely linked via social networks, a new way of communication in the art world has formed. 

“The culture sector has begun to make a shift from using social media with a purely marketing focus, to sharing the processes and insights. It’s a step in the right direction for community engagement” says Abhay Adhikari, an expert on digital spaces. He goes on to discuss how the sharing processes within the art world is limited to after the fact. People discuss shows and exhibitions after their cultivation. He suggests bringing other artists into the planning process itself through niche platforms.

A niche platform that uses community conversation to its benefit is Artstack.com, a site much like pintrest, but catering to severe art enthusiasts. 

Image

On this website, you can ‘stack’ works of art to your own collection, share them with others and  look through the stacks of your favorite artists. 

So what is collective intelligence and what does it mean for the art world? Simply put, more heads are better than one. Social networks allow a free flowing sharing process between many individuals that allow a creative space to form to share ideas. 

Art inherently is about collaboration. Most art forms require more than one person, and the best comes from a collaboration with many people. Online artist platforms are proving to be lucrative in the ideas department. Since these websites apply to a niche audience, unlike twitter or facebook, there is less clutter about things that do not interest the user. 

Many websites, like Artbistro and Film Net, also work as a ‘dating site’ for collaborators. Upload a profile and make connections to work on a project. 

One of my favorite artists Austin Kleon, talks about ‘stealing like an artist’, which celebrates the idea of re imaging, collecting and collaborating with other artists. 

While he doesn’t directly address the digital element to this phenomenon of meta art, he does highlight the way in which an artwork is formed; from multiple perspectives of people and ideas. Social networks created a collective intelligence that an artist needs in order to make successful work. 

Adhikari, Abhay. Social media in the arts: creating engagement through chaos. The Guardian. October 2012. http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture-professionals-network/culture-professionals-blog/2012/oct/04/social-media-arts-engagement-chaos

Geeks, tweets and bums on seats. The Sydeny Morning Herald. July 2010. intelligence

Flew, Terry. New Media: an introduction. Oxford. 

Kleon, Austin. http://www.austinkleon.com/blog/

 

Transmedia Storytelling

What is Transmedia Storytelling?

As you may have noticed, many stories today seem inescapable. It wasn’t that long ago that Harry, Ron and Hermione existed only if you picked up one J.K. Rowling’s massive books. Today, with eight blockbuster features under its belt, the Potter Universe is still constantly producing. Video games, fan fiction, books mentioned in the novels, even a secretive encyclopedic website, are only a small portion of the different portals in the world of Harry Potter.

This is an example of Transmedia Storytelling, a genius storytelling device that shares a story-or the universe in which the story exists-across various mediums, at different times, and on different platforms.

Deeply-rooted in the latest digital media, transmedia storytelling is an often interactive means to engage an audience, instead of simply retelling the story over separate platforms. Not to be confused with Crossmedia, it’s an ongoing process that is revealed bit by bit as each layer is unveiled, and new information is being generated by different people. The collectors become the creators.

This process is culled by the collective conscious of fans. This phenomenon occurs when, having soaked up all of the information available, the fans know more about the story’s universe than its creators themselves.

In today’s world, most users are digitally articulate; creating a large market for user generated material, pushing a ratio of 1:1 in readers to writers. This makes for an easy system for content to be retold and distributed easily over and over again. This attributed makes transmedia storytelling a widely used tool by arts marketers, particularly those in the film industry.

The Consumers are the Creators

Such avid participation means the creator/user identity is blurred; who’s content is it?The question bodes very well for advertisers. The most effective marketers get their audience to personality identify with the brand so much that it becomes part of their personalty.

Marketing films with transmedia storytelling ensures complete audience engagement, the goal being it doesn’t feel like a marketing campaign. To produce a successful campaign, film marketers are sure to hit a couple of key areas.

First, creating ubiquitous content that engages the audience and will pervade their everyday life. A multiple channel delivery system makes marketers reach audience faster and more widely varied, creating spreadable media that by nature becomes drillable media if the audience participates.

Audience participation is an incredibly effective advertising technique. User generated content is more accessible because of the relatively equipment we need to create material. Dale Dougherty, creator and founder of the world’s largest DIY festival, knows that humans are makers:

The marketers at Star Wars recently held a competition inviting fans create to their own 15 second version of a part of of Star Wars: A New Hope.  They created an entire remake of the two hour long film from only user generated material: 

Talk about brand loyalty.

Movie Marketing and Audience Engagement

Audiences don’t want to feel like they’re being marketed to. They want to feel like they are on the inside too, part of the joke.

Andrea Phillips, author of A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling: How to Captivate and Engage Audiences across Multiple Platforms, discusses her first experience with film marketing in transmedia storytelling. When Steven Spielberg was releasing A.I Artificial Intelligence, a clever team of marketers worked on an insanely secretive creative ploy, now called “the Beast,” to market the film.

Phillips was forwarded a link to a website for the Anti Robot Militia. “We had no idea what it was, but it was really weird” says Phillips.  “These people were talking about how robots aren’t alive and have no right to exist…We were so baffled by this that we started looking around.”

After finding other clues on separate websites and even attending an anti robot live event rally, Phillips realized she was apart of a movie marketing scheme of epic proportions. What struck her was that the film was never explicitly advertised. “It was completely true to the experience the whole way through. And we loved it so deeply and so passionately — because it didn’t feel like we were being marketed to.”

People are becoming more involved now simply because it is a lot easier to do. Either way, getting your audience to participate in marketing to themselves is the ultimate brand loyalty.

Sources:

Locker, Melissa. Fans Remake Star Wars, 15 seconds at a Time. Time Magazine, Jan 15th 2012. http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/01/25/fans-remake-star-wars-15-seconds-at-a-time/

Flew, Terry. New Media, an Introduction. Oxford University Press. 

Transmedia Storytelling, Fan Culture and the Future of Marketing. knowledge@wharton

http://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article.cfm?articleid=3039