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Category Archives: 152 ~ Perception, movement, emotions & drives

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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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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Whimsical Be Free

I first discovered the art of Be Free on the Corner of the Tin Pot cafe where a little girl was pasted on the wall dropping a deck of cards onto the ground in front of her. This image immediately appealed. It invoked a sense of letting go of order and restrictions whilst enabling the mischievous sense of freedom to take over…. and just to be free… mix up a deck of cards, scatter them on the ground and risk losing some from the deck… This whimsical nature is what is appealing about the character of the little girl depicted in the art of Be Free.

In other artworks the same character can be found splashing paint across walls, jumping in puddles, watering plants, having a tea party and sometimes she is crouched under an umbrella, with a pensive expression, as rainbow rain washes over her. Be Free is almost always captioned or signed near the artwork.

The invitation to the child within is felt strongly when a work by Be Free is encountered. It is easy to relate to the child within. It is someone we all conjure up easily as the experiences of childhood have remained within. Emotions and impulsive actions are the first experiences we encounter. However, throughout life, much of our growing up journey is about pulling this freedom back and accepting the order applied from the world and other social forces. It is the whimsical spirit of letting go, the permission to be naughty, impulsive and playful against the rules, order, and restrictions that is very enticing indeed. Whilst an adult can easily relate, I have found children drawn to this artwork too. Clearly relating to the childhood represented is appealing to all ages.

The little girl, depicted in the Be Free artwork, is an incredibly recognisable character and when a new work appears there is no doubt who the work is by. I have had great pleasure documenting the artwork via photographs and sharing them through the virtual sphere. Alongside the works of Be Free are collaborations with other artists. Two notable collaborations are with the artists Suki and Erin Greer.

Interestingly, it is the artwork of Be Free, amongst the vast collections of street art I have been documenting, that has been commented on most extensively across the international virtual sphere. Clearly, the whimsy of Be Free is one we all relate to.

The saying ‘Once a child always a child’ echoes strongly in the work of Be Free. Following is a gallery of some of the photographs I have taken of the works of Be Free from my Flickr feed. Be Free from Preprint Flickr

Be Free will be having a joint exhibition with Erin Greer called “Monster and the girl’  at Egg Gallery in Collingwood. The exhibition opens February 8, 2013 and runs till February 22, 2013. Following is the promotional video. The gallery is located at 66a Johnston st, Collingwood.

 

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Ephemeral Street art ~ A Melbourne Story

Yesterday, Worker’s didn’t give a rat’s in response to yet another work, by Banksy, being destroyed in Melbourne. This echoes an earlier destruction of a Banksy work in 2008 of ‘The little diver’ as found in the following news report; The painter painted: Melbourne loses it’s treasured Banksy.

Today I’m sharing another artwork that has been ripped from public view by another international artist. Her name is Alice Pasquini. Click on the link to her name and explore, you wont be dissapointed.

This time the position of the artwork is not as high profile and I doubt the story of the STOLEN artwork will make front headlines. However, my discovery of the dissapearance of this work occurred on the same morning that the destruction of the Banksy work was reported. This resonates quite strongly in my imagination. It stirs feelings and debate amongst people, you only need to follow the comments feed on the stories reported in The Age to realise there is much division on the value of Street art.

My position on the situation is very clear. I love Street art. It brightens my day by providing me/the public with an urban gallery. It slows me in my tracks as I travel through the day. I stop, notice, stand back, move in close. I look at the details and take in the environment. I discuss the pieces with passers by, strangers and share moments that otherwise would not have ocurred… I document what I find and share on Instagram with an international audience delighting in the art of the streets.

I regularly pass by the Alice work and take delight in the enjoyment of the gift the artist has bestowed on the streets of Melbourne. I first photographed this work about six months ago in the suburb of Northcote, Melbourne. The artwork was in an obscure street, lined with warehouses amidst other streets of suburban houses. There were two works contributed by Alice and both were on Metal doors.

The first photo is the photo of the work that has been stolen. The second photo is of the artwork that still remains

Now there is only one work left as the metal door of one of the artwork above has been taken off. Someone has STOLEN the artwork. The only remnant of the artwork’s existence is the orange/yellow paint splash on the left.

This raises the concept of the ephemeral in Street Art and this is part of the reason I love Street art so much. The idea that one day an artwork can dissapear produces a desire to find artworks and see them, to share them. At the same time there is beauty in ephemera as the work fades with time due to the elements of wear and tear. The glare of the sun can dull colours, the glue of the paste-ups becomes affected by the rain, sun, wind cycles and slowly portions of the paste-up begin to unstick, fall off or wither away. This type of ephemeral I have decided to term as natural ephemeral. It is the artwork interacting with the elements. It transforms in it’s environment unaided by human’s. It shows how an artwork can evolve in a street setting. I walk past works often to observe the changes and have come across the beauty of a work as it seemingly becomes part of the brickwork in this natural process of change. This is the ephemeral nature of street art I love.

However, in the world of Street art there is another and more destructive form of ephemeral. This includes the destruction of artwork, as depicted in the news reports on the Banksy artworks, the stealing of artwork as has happened to the work of Alice, and the tagging, pasting, or painting over artwork.This ephemeral produces disdain, anger, disappointment and incomprehension. It is this ephemeral that is always difficult to reconcile.

Whilst this has documented a somewhat ugly side of Street art in Melbourne, and even the world, I am grateful for the tenacious nature of the artists and their passionate pursuits to colour the world of the streets for public view. I am very fortunate to be living in a city, that can sit proud amongst other cities as having a very healthy and prolific street art scene. It is wonderful to have so many talented artists contributing that are both homegrown and international. I can never thank the artists enough!

 

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Biometrics and Privacy

This morning, while doing errands, I heard the following story on the radio titled Local Councils plan to use vein scanners to clock staff hours. I paid particular attention as the biometric scanners are being installed by a local council in Melbourne and it will be in libraries. As I am studying librarianship and am from Melbourne, it became personal.

The invasion of privacy under the increasingly ubiquitous surveillance landscape is certainly something I am concerned with.  What about the storage of this biometric data of individuals? Digital files are easily hacked, accessed or corrupted and the storing of individual data in this way for a purpose of tracking employee time at work is questionable.

Privacy is a longheld concern. Any attempt at invading individual privacy is something that all should stand up against. What are the rights of the individual in this circumstance? When you are faced with the imbalance in power relations of employer/employee, then how many can courageously speak up when faced with such a situation? When considering minors, then how many will accept that this is the way it is? I am only touching on the surface here. Dig deeper and the scenario is less than palatable for anyone.

Yes, I am concerned and there is reason to be!

 

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Booktrack: soundtracks for books

Last week I was joking around with a friend about how great it would be to have soundtracks for books. The vision being that as you read the words come to life through sound. For example while reading a scary book, as you reach the point where the door creaks open, this is the sound you would hear. Well we were rather amused with the idea and then today I discover the following clip. How do thoughts work like this in our world. It never ceases to amaze….

 

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The effect of a book

I love this clip and what it says about the generational impact on humans. I also love books and can relate to the gestures translating to our use of digital technology such as iPhones, iPads and now with a trackpad for iMacs. Amazing how body memory affect other aspects of relating in the digital sphere.

The Effect of a Book, Extending Beyond The Form from João Machado on Vimeo.

 

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