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Review ~ Woman’s World: a graphic novel

Woman’s World: a graphic novel
By Graham Rawle
Atlantic Books London, 2005
ISBN: 9781843543688

Transitioning from reading for study purposes to reading for leisure has been a challenge these past few months and it has taken time to move into the world of fiction and reading for fun. However, Woman’s World is the first read that I have enjoyed.

Woman’s World is constructed entirely with found text from women’s magazines in the 1960’s. The author wrote the outline of the story and over five years replaced his written outline with text found and cut out from magazines. The author used a traditional cut and paste method to create the pages that were then scanned to make the final work.

This technique, in constructing a story, initially drew me to this novel. I was curious as to how it would read and whether it would work effectively without being disjointed. I wondered about the content of women’s magazines, from a particular time period, and whether it would create a context and culturally shape the world of the fiction created.

This method of constructing a novel, from text found in women’s magazines in the 1960’s, added to the layers of the story in a way I hadn’t considered. References to clothing, appearance and cleaning added meaning to the plot and contributed to character development and interactions.

With found text Rawle has created a work that captures the world of these magazines and a world of the characters in this novel. As ‘he do the police in a differnt voice’, a blogpost on IF: the future of books states “Rawle stitches phrases and words together to create something new’.

I didn’t know anything about the story before I started reading and I was pleasantly surprised with the ease I felt in losing myself in the storying. Suspense came into play and the emotional journeys took shape. My consciousness of the text from women’s magazines, was strongly present throughout my reading but this did not detract from the storying. Instead it proved crucial to the overall development enhancing the reading of the novel.

…I will not share the plot here as the thriller moments are best discovered by oneself. Enjoy.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]

 

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An Audiovisual notepad

It started with Vine and the six second loops. This quickly led to experimentation and unleashed creativity with the limitations imposed by the Vine app.

This progressed to edited clips, uploaded to Instagram, and seeking out post-production apps. Whilst hoping Final Cut Pro will one day feature in the app store, this has not materialised and Cute Cut Pro has worked quite well.

I still refuse to upload post-produced clips to Vine, even though the ability to do so has been enabled with updated versions of the app. Maybe it’s the limitations that I actually enjoy as a creative process.

Over the past year my interest in making videos with mobile technology has intensified…
Now I just keep sketching or shooting clips even if only in the short mode style. In fact, I haven’t bothered with my old cameras or desktop editing with Final Cut Pro. It’s been over a year now. As time passes I’m less and less interested in venturing back because I love the freedom of creating wherever and whenever. If it can’t be created with mobile technology then I don’t bother.

Upon reflection, this process has become an audiovisual creative notepad of sorts. I play with ideas, experiment and share. Some ideas seem to spark an interest in me and call for further development whilst others are just a moment fleeting. There are a few ideas from this audiovisual notepad that I want to flesh out and develop into short films and animations but of course this will take time and involve more writing and sketching.

Right now this process works for me and suits me just fine.

As an extension, I’m enjoying passing the inspiration of this process to other animators/filmmakers and colleagues at my workplace. It’s the new democratisation of media production.

Here’s a brief ‘How to’ clip I found on the inter webs about Cute Cut Pro

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in 029 ~ [Unassigned]

 

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Let’s talk about racist jokes

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Chris Lilley’s latest offering has been aired on television and the result has been a backlash on social media with the hashtags #MyNameIsNOTJonah  #ChangeStartsHere and #ProudPoly. See the the following article for a background ~ Chris Lilley facing social media backlash over ‘racist’ Jonah From Tonga.

Firstly, I need to state, I support the challenge being made by people questioning the representation presented by Chris Lilley. Australia has a long history of comedy where people from a class of privilege are making fun of people from backgrounds of which they do not come from. Think of the Comedy Company, for instance, on air from 1988 to 1990 and the infamous character of Con the Fruiterer.

The polemics around this issue are important and further discussion around issues of representation, who creates representation and what meanings are imbued in these representations are pivotal to understanding how power and racism are intertwined and reinforced with stereotypes as represented by people who are not from these backgrounds.

Not being from the background is a crucial point in this discussion. You see, when I’m sitting around having a yarn with my cousins and joking about ‘our wog life’, this is very different to when a ‘whitefella’ uses the term ‘wog’ in his/her jokes. My cousins and I are proud of our backgrounds and our jokes are not imbued with a malice or derision of our ways. Instead there is an affectionate understanding of what it means to grow up in this country from a specific vantage point.

The invocation of stereotypes, by people who are not of that background, comes with a derision and malice. The tone of these representations is a put-down. Essentially, it is a position that looks down on the ‘other’, something to be ridiculed and laughed at. It comes from a position of superiority, by the class representing the ‘other’, and reinforces concepts of erasure of cultural identity whilst preferencing ideas of integration. Racist jokes end up being statements to the ‘other’ that we should become more like the dominant class and culture because they are better.

…ok so this is a start. Let’s begin… let’s talk about race and racism in all it’s manifestations because talking about it is better than pretending it doesn’t exist…

 

 

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A break from social media ~ reflection

After I took a week off from social media, one of the first posts I came across on Facebook contained this video. The post was followed with a series of comments about the use of phones and our loss of connection with being ‘in the moment’. Prior to my break from social media, I would have agreed that the phone is the issue but after my self-imposed break, I discovered that without the lure of social media, I rarely reached for the phone. Instead, the phone lay dormant on the table attached to the charger for hours. My break from social media, indicated it was the lure of social connection and interaction that kept that phone close at hand.

I have come across a few articles recently, debating the negatives and positives of social media. One article highlight’s narcissism, and self PR campaigns, in the individual use of social media as a misconstrued need to display a sense of constant awesomeness. On the other hand, this debate in the New York Times points to the virtues of access to an audience, self publishing and instant interaction as presenting opportunities for individual growth.

Interestingly, being without social media is not all positive, just as being constantly connected is not all positive. A friend (from my social media world) joined me in my mission to abstain from social media for a week and we shared insights about the experience via SMS. He shared this article ‘I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet’. What is interesting in this article is how the writer chronicles his personal experience of taking a year off the internet concluding that the positive/negative divide is not straight forward.

I decided to switch off social media for a week, beginning just two days before New Years Eve 2013. Celebratory times often attract increased posting, so it was going to be a challenge. The decision was spontaneous and partly based around my perception that my contributions were tired and felt somewhat laboured in the month of December. You see, I had been online since the end of 2011 diving into many social media apps including; Instagram, Facebook, Momentage, Backspaces, Twitter, Vine, Picyou, Eyeem, taada, Streamzoo, Wattpad, lightt, Tumblr, WordPress, Blogger, Pheed, Scoop.it…

and the list goes on…..

The majority of these apps were a process of trialling for evaluation purposes, so my presence was short lived. However, my presence on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Vine have been constant. I’m not certain how much time I spent online with my phone, but it was definitely daily and on all four platforms. I would check each app every morning and participate in conversations, contribute content, check events, click on posted links and read/view content shared, read collated stories from Zite, share to targeted and appropriate social networks and so on and so forth… I’m pretty sure that was just two hours in the morning. I haven’t calculated time throughout the day nor the relax time after the evening meal when the kids are in bed… To say the least, four hours of online engagement may be an underestimate….. if I was being honest… (jaw dropping to the floor in realisation!)

I was feeling socially exhausted and needed to retreat, to think and refresh. The need to question the value of my contributions, the purpose, my connections and interactions seemed quite strong both online and in real life. Even with interactions IRL (in real life) I often feel the need to retreat and gather strength so that I can be social again. I suppose the virtual world had reached that point too.

Without social media, it became apparent quickly how few my connections are. SMS, email and phone are definitely much less active and interactions come from fewer people. The world felt somewhat silent. On a positive note, I relaxed more and just took time out. I even finished a novel in one night (it was a short novel). My time with my kids was less interrupted and seemed more positive. More than anything, my kids loved how unhurried I appeared. As a qualifier, this was the holiday time so relaxation was on the menu regardless. I actually started to feel relaxed and recharged too.

I found my thought processes seemed less hurried and distracted. I could think about what ‘it’ is about social media that is positive and consider the benefits of social networks online. I certainly missed my interactions and conversations with people that I connected with online and was looking forward to the time I could interact again. I discovered finding articles of interest, with no-one to share, made the conversation and knowledge construction seem far less interesting and rewarding without the social media platforms.

Without social media, the web is very static. Just reading articles and not contributing to conversation and adding to knowledge is something I tire from quickly. I suppose, knowledge is constructive and involves conversation. Social media has enabled this. With the networks that are formed, based around communities of interest, we are able to obtain various insights and access to information that is pertinent to specific interest areas. This helps to build on our thoughts, triggering connections with ideas we have come across and prompting further sharing and knowledge construction. In my social media networks, my communities of interest have developed around street art, writing, information access, arts, filmmaking and activism. With these areas I’ve connected with groups and conversations specific to these areas. Not all the people I connect with are connected with each other. Instead communities exist as various circles of interest that sometimes intersect but mostly remain distinct. Ultimately, this is what I view as a positive aspect of social media alongside the possibility of extending online relationships to real life relationships and vice versa.

So in 2014, one of my key resolutions is to increase my collaborative creative efforts with people from my social media world with a focus on improving both online and ‘in real life’ interactions. It is this aspect of social media, over the past couple of years, that has provided the most rewarding experiences. Clearly, this is the ultimate positive enablement of virtual communities.

Another resolution is to take breaks from social media. After a week’s break, I came back feeling refreshed, filled with ideas and wanting to contribute again. I’ve identified social interaction in the virtual world as no different to social interaction IRL, in terms of the need for retreat to replenish… in my case anyway. Just as I need a break to recharge IRL I also need this in the virtual world. Otherwise, I start feeling exhausted and unable to contribute.

 

 

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Reflections on a blog

self-reflecting

Self-refelction

I started this blog at the beginning of 2011. Initially, it was a part of my studies in the Masters of Information Studies (MIS) which I have been completing part-time. My posts are often musings related to studies, tangents spurred by thoughts related to the information sector and even divergences based on personal interests. Quite broad really, but as the first blog it proved a great place to dive in and just swim.

Now, as I am nearing completion of the MIS, with just one subject left, the question of ‘where to’ with this blog has arisen. Once the overarching studylink disappears, what will the focus of this blog be?

You see, this is not my only blog, I have other blogs dedicated to different purposes including creative writing and arts practice blogs. Alongside these other blogs I actively create content and share with other social media platforms. Clearly, there is plenty to keep me engaged and contributing.

It appears with social media, many take an approach of cross-posting the same information across numerous sites. It’s similar to marketing strategies where the aim is to reach as many audiences across as many platforms as possible. However, whilst I cross-pollinate some of my posts, as iterations across different sites, I have tended to take an approach that seems to be more compartmentalised in approach.

I tend to separate my focus in content contribution for different purposes to enable connection with distinct audiences/communities in some sites that do not exist on other platforms. I appreciate that some communities of connection in the virtual sphere are based on specific interests. For instance, with my arts practice, it is a distinct and specific focus. Some of the people I have connected with are only interested in my paper cutting and linocuts. With my writing, yet again it may be a different connection and so on. Not everyone that likes my street-art documenting, for instance, will be interested in my experimental videos or my writing and vice versa.

I’m acutely aware that my interests shared, are dispersed in such a manner and seem to focus more on maintaining smaller communities of interest instead of amalgamating into one broad group. Whether this approach works or not is difficult to fully gauge, but it suits me for now.

On this blog I have probably incorporated the most diverse musings and the structure is loosely held together with a focus on the sharing of information. Obviously, some of my study musings will dissipate over time but what else….

In reflecting, I’ve decided this blog will function as a blog of reviews. By reviews, I will continue with technology reviews, book reviews and my personal musings on arts. In the end I’m still sharing information but adding a more focussed approach. It seems to suit me just fine.

Maybe, Ill even revamp the look of this blog too…..

 

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Video sharing apps – Vinestagram Lightt

Yesterday Instagram released the 4.1 update incorporating the ability to upload video content from your camera feed. This is a significant step, distinguishing the app from Vine and Lightt. Whilst still restricted to 15 seconds of video, the ability to upload video makes it closer to YouTube than the other two apps. This means footage that has been pre-recorded and edited can now be uploaded. You can upload snippets from different video footage, manipulate the length of the footage and create a montage for 15 seconds. Thus the ability to utilise the app as a basic editing tool has also been enabled. Comparisons between Vine and Instagram have been quite rife with some predicting the demise of Vine. This review –  Instagram vs Vine: Battle of the short-form video-sharing apps indicates the depiction of the two apps as being in competition.

When Instagram first launched video, a few like minded individuals including myself, came together and formed an account dedicated to capturing stories in 15 seconds. 15secstory is an international collaborative account purely dedicated to the Instagram video format. Interestingly, the contributors to this account connected via the Vine app and continue to be avid Viners. In this respect there is a useful purpose for both apps and each has its strengths

Within the initial instagram format, the challenge of capturing a story in 15 seconds was difficult. However, it became apparent you could preview, as you filmed, delete clips if they didn’t work and reshoot. You could work with the limited filters to alter the look of the final clip. Thus the ability to utilise post-production techniques was built into Instagram from the outset, even though limited. One thing Instagram didn’t have was the ability to have a fine-tuned stop-start recording feature enabling stop-motion and time-lapse clips to be created as effectively as you can with Vine. With Instagram stop-motion just seems a bit clunky to achieve as you are not able to capture miniscule segments of footage, as you can with Vine

The comparable app, to this initial version of Instagram, is Lightt. Lightt allows the filming of footage with the benefit of manipulating individual clips for sound, image, duration and effect. You can reverse clips, cut and paste and move them around on the timeline. You can post-record sound and apply simple effects like echo for individual clips. A particular bonus is that you can manipulate individual clips with more options than you can on Instagram. In terms of post-production abilities, within an app, Lightt is superior to Instagram even with the current Instagram update. Post-production ability with instagram is limited to duration of clips, deletion of most recent clip posted on the timeline and the application of a filter across the 15 seconds. There is no ability to move clips around a timeline or even work with asynchronous sound. Unless… post-production occurs elsewhere… Which is what the new update is about.

With Instagram’s new update, you can effectively record the whole interview outside of instagram and edit it down to a fifteen second snippet to upload later if you choose. This is quite a remarkable change to the process. If you wish you can utilse Final Cut Pro X to edit your video and then transfer to your camera. Effectively more time, resources and capabilities are utilised but the opportunity to share highly polished videos in this instant social media format is there. This is where Instagram becomes comparable to YouTube even though it is a short-form video format.

I decided to test the new ability to upload clips to Instagram from my camera. I chose three vine clips that were on my camera feed and uploaded them. I then altered the time of two clips so that they fit within the 15 second limit and posted the final clip. If you consider this process and what it actually consists of, the time factor comes into play. I haven’t utilised any post-production software in this process at all, just two social media apps that allow video sharing. Following is the final clip that was uploaded yesterday.

Vine video upload  to Instgram

My first uploaded video to Instagram composed of three Vine clips. Click on the image to play.


The overall process consisted of planning my individual Vine clips, setting up and filming these clips utilising the Vine app and posting to Vine. To upload to Instgram I selected three of my Vine clips that were saved to my camera role. I manipulated the duration of two of the clips and posted the final version. The majority of the creative process occurred with the Vine process where the clips were created.

With Vine there is no post-production ability. Essentially, Vine is the most restrictive of all the video sharing apps. There are no post-production options. You cannot upload content. There are no filters you can apply, there is no ability for asynchronous recording or editing. Preview is the last stage before you post and you can’t delete clips and reshoot segments. If you choose not to post, you lose the ability to post that clip. Gone. Just like that.

I have worked on stop-motion clips for Vine for over two hours and lost everything when the app crashed because of a low battery. I often shoot and reshoot a clip over twenty times before I am happy to post a final version. Sometimes an earlier version is better but because I wasn’t satisfied with it at the time, it never made it to Vine. So it sits on my camera roll. Sometimes I never see what a clip looks like whilst in the process of creating a clip, nor am I ever able to until the end and it’s impossible to recreate. This is often the case with stop-motion Vines. With Vine, the process is similar to in-camera editing. It is restricted to stop-start and that is all. Once posted Vine is a six second format that continuously loops. There is no delay in the video starting when viewing as I have experienced with Instagram and Lightt.

The restrictions or limits applied by the Vine app have proved to be incredibly liberating at the same time. The focus has shifted to pre-production. I find myself questioning what do I want to film, or as I’m journeying, an idea pops up from stimulus around me. I look at the world around me and start seeing visuals that work. I question how do I want my final six seconds to look? What do I want to convey and how can I achieve this within these limits? I get inspired by other creative Viners and wonder how did they do that? I feel propelled and compelled to experiment and to push boundaries. I’m almost certain that this wall of limits is movable… This is the mindset that Vine has inspired.

Over time this process of incredible experimentation has become evident amongst many who are participating in the Vine video-sharing community. This is evident with the use of Assistive touch by many focussed on stopmotion wanting to squeeze in more frames in the tiny six seconds offered. It is evident in experimenting with physical lenses to apply desired effects including the use of coloured crystal glasses, experimenting with stretching soundclips so stop-motion sound seems more synchronous in the recording process and so forth.

As the first video sharing app, Vine captured the imagination of those focused on the filmmaking format. Adam Goldberg is one example of the incredible talent that transformed and inspired many with the boundaries overcome by the incredible Vines created. With limits you become resourceful. Failure is not crushing, just another learning experience, it becomes a dialogue with the others in the community that have been inspired by the limitations and determined to achieve a great little six second story.

I’m not so sure this will happen on Instagram. Instagram is first and foremost a photo-sharing app. Video seems like an added feature but not a focus as it is on Vine. Lightt has a focus on just video sharing and provides an interesting approach where all the clips stream one after the other. Effectively, over time, a whole movie can easily be created with this app. Because of this Lightt has interested me and is certainly an app worth exploring.

 

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app review of Stop Motion Studio for iPad

I came across the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Stories on Screen competition and forwarded the details to the Early Years Leading Teacher, also the early years ICT leader. She expressed an interest in participating this year with the younger students creating stop-motion animations  inspired by children’s books.

In the past couple of years the school has been purchasing iPads to be used at school. At this stage, the younger years are using the iPads and grade five/six students have helped with reviewing some apps for education. However, they havent been satisfied with any of the stop motion apps. As a consequence I decided to investigate apps for iPads with a focus on creating animations and films. I located a few stopmotion apps and identified Stop Motion Studio to investigate along with the iMovie app.

The aim was to determine:

  1. Key features of the app and how to use it.
  2. How easy the app was to use by younger children

In this activity I downloaded Stop Motion Studio, iMovie and Extras4iMovie to my iPad. I then asked two children (my daughters) if they would like to create animations with paper cut-outs. They were both very keen on the idea of creating animations. The process of planning and animating happened over a weekend. My involvement in their planning stage was minimal. Basically they showed me their cut-outs and asked me what I thought. Sometimes I suggested some more elements may be needed.

On the second day, my involvement was geared towards setting up the iPad to capture the stop motion clips. We did not have a iPad mount to firmly position the iPad to a tripod. Consequently, gaffer tape was used to hold the iPad in place on top of a silver case, on top of a table. The paper elements were on a black cloth on the floor. Little LED lights provided the lighting source.

Once this was set up, each child continued without any assistance. They were able to work out how to use the app without many instructions and even taught me some of the features such as the scrolling back and forth to see the overlay of the animation image.

The animation process took a while involving constant movement between the iPad to shoot frames and the paper elements to change them as part of the frame by frame capture process. They completed the animation with Stop Motion Studio but are yet to edit the final animations in iMovie. They photographed close ups of elements that will need to be edited into the the animation along with the final sound and titles sequence.

During the process, I documented with my iPhone by filming and photographing. I then edited the documented photos and clips with the animations the children made using the iMovie app on an iPad. The titles were created with Extras4iMovie. This video forms the app review that was exported to Youtube and subsequently embedded in this post. By creating this video I was able to test the iMovie app in the process.

This week I will be sharing this review with the school in support of the initiative to use iPads to create animations and films for the CBCA competition and for future projects. Being able to identify the information, curriculum and technology needs is an incredibly important function of a librarian in a school. With this activity, I have been able to provide curriculum resource ideas and support with technology to enable successful outcomes. By working with the children to assess ease of use, I am focussing the needs to the target group and this is very important.

What I learnt is that you definitely need an iPad mount to enable an effective and steady support for the iPad. This will make filming and animation easier. I discovered the app is a fantastic app for the targeted age group and feel confident in transferring these ideas to the teaching and learning community. In working with children to assess the app, it is much easier to demonstrate the ease of use by the target audience.

The next stage involves working through the editing process with the iMovie app and assessing how easy post-production is for the target audience.

 

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