360MC: – Inspiration and thoughts for Spectacle artefact

Building on from the ideas posed by Guy Debord in terms of the ‘Society of the Spectacle’, the theme of control and living in a fully mediated world is a fascinating concept; albeit one that has been reproduced a number of times. For example, The Matrix (1999) and its two sequels The Matrix Reloaded (2003) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003), directed by The Wachowskis, all borrowed heavily from key theorist Jean Baudrillard in terms of spectacle, and even used direct quotes from him throughout the films. One quote that perhaps sums up The Matrix the most is taken from Baudrillard’s book Simulations, where Baudrillard writes: “Illusion is no longer possible, because the real is no longer possible.” (Baudrillard, 1983:38). This again harkens back to Debord’s argument that the world is controlled and constructed by media images, thus creating a false reality based around icons and mediated living. This was again reinforced by Baudrillard on ‘Simulacra’, which also theorised about the same issues.  The first Matrix film was and still is a spectacle in many terms of the word. It showcased groundbreaking special effects and action choreography that still holds up well today from a visual standpoint, yet also deals with complex themes of control, reality and the human condition. After watching The Matrix once again and reading into the themes, this element of a virtual and false-reality world is a fascinating concept, and one that everyone can be aware of.

The notion of the virtual world can immediately make one think of computers and/or video games. The ability of a games developer is to create a world that transports the player into a new world, putting them in the shoes of a new character and making them achieve a task – all of which is not real and is entirely constructed. This therefore has many comparisons with living life through the spectacle. We are not living in reality and we are an entirely media-constructed ‘individual’ that is also plagued by dominant discourse which has thus shaped us into who we are. When thinking about video games that look real as possible, the application of motion-capture came to mind. Motion-capture has been used in games for a long time but it is arguably the game developer of Quantic Dream that are the most renowned for using it. Their work on the critically acclaimed games such as Heavy Rain and Beyond Two Souls have both utilised the motion-capture technology in video games and have helped craft much more believable emotional depth within their characters and thus create a much more invested narrative. Quantic Dreams’ games always tend to use ‘reaction commands’ or ‘quick time events’ as their core gameplay and let the story and characters do the rest. Debord’s and Baudrillard’ theories on spectacle could fit very well into this idea, with the resounding question of ‘who is playing whom?’ This is something that could translate very well into an artefact surrounding spectacle; bringing in themes of control, false-reality and media-manipulation.

References:

Baudrillard, J. (1983) Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e) Inc.

The Matrix. 1999. [film] United States: The Wachowski Brothers.

The Matrix Reloaded. 2003. [film] United States: The Wachowski Brothers.

The Matrix Revolutions. 2003. [film] United States: The Wachowski Brothers.

Unknown. 2012. Heavy Rain – Hassan’s Shop – Gameplay Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ee4sQispHQ : [26 Oct 2013].

Unknown. 2009. “The Matrix” (1999) — ‘Construct’ Scenes Available at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=AGZiLMGdCE0 : [26 Oct 2013].

360MC: – Analysing ‘Spectacle’

‘Spectacle in the media’ is such a broad term as it mends itself with many facets of our society and life. However, the definition of the word itself can have a different meaning to how it is applied to the media world. Before looking into how it applies to the much larger concept, it is necessary to see what the definition of the word ‘spectacle’ actually is (according to Google).

SPECTACLE

“1. a visually striking performance or display.”

“2. an event or scene regarded in terms of its visual impact.”

Both of these definitions are somewhat applicable to ‘spectacle in the media’, although there is a much larger meaning to the term. One way in which it makes sense is that a media story can be blown up to such proportions that it becomes visually memorable and thus causes as much impact as the event itself. For example, the 2011 London Riots started as a peaceful protest against the shooting of Mark Duggan. However, this soon descended into huge nation-spread riots that were purely based on looting and antisocial behaviour and this image soon stole the spotlight to the point where many people did not even know why it started in the first place. From the burning Reeves furniture store, to images of looting and riot police, this soon became the known image as the event was turned into a ‘spectacle’.

However, ‘spectacle’ can also have a very different meaning. The ‘spectacle’ can refer to the world around us that has been so mediated and constructed through images and advertising, that the ‘real world’ is no longer real as everything is constructed. It can also be argued that“The spectacle is not a collection of images, it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images.” (Debord 2009: 24) This once again shows that people can be controlled by these images and this false reality has become our new reality. One area in which spectacle can be seen is in branding, marketing and consumerist culture. We are all consumers of the media. We witness it on a daily basis at an almost unconscious level as many of us have been raised on it since birth. Nowadays, media is everywhere we turn, on 24 hour television, internet, and print media – whether this be through newspapers, magazines or on billboards. All of this information can be viewed on easily accessible portable devices so that we can never be away from the media’s presence and control. People have the ‘freedom’ to choose which media they wish to access and engage with, although this is often futile as the people who run the media know that we are predictable and gravitate to certain ways in which news is presented to us. For example, broadsheet papers tend to be more factual in their information and sources  and deliver the news in an unbiased way. Tabloid newspapers, however, tend to be a lot more popular with the mass media consumers. The use of language and image that is generated on page immediately captures the attention of the reader, with its bold text and often catchy slogans and headlines. These newspapers often create media folk devils, crafted by the capitalist leaders of the media in order to scare, shock, or influence the thoughts and behaviours of its reader. These news articles, like broadcast, often use language and image in order to generate a visual impact with the reader. This therefore harkens back to the very definition of the word ‘spectacle’.

“Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?”

References:

Debord, G. (2009) Society of the spectacle. Eastbourne: Soul Bay Press LTD.

Google (2013) Spectacle [online] available from: http://www.google.co.uk/#q=spectacle+meaning %5B25 October 2013].

Unknown. n.d. ‘Bohemian Rhapsody wallpaper’. [image online] available from: http://starspage.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Queen-Wallpaper-HD-bohemian-rhapsody-a-person.jpg [25 Oct 2013].

360MC: – Power Artefact

https://vimeo.com/77370480

Following the research of watching motivational videos by influential speakers, such as Les Brown and Eric Thomas, and listening to and reading the theories on ‘power’ by Michel Foucault, I wanted the piece to be centred around society’s expectation of a ‘live, work, die’ mentality and the significant pressure the system places on individuals to join this ideology.

After being taken on a trip to London to either continue researching or film our Power artefact, I decided to film the vast majority of the footage there. As the piece deals with dominant discourse and power, the setting of London was appropriate as it evokes the connotations of power of the government, the monarchy and business – all of which play a part in the system of society. The backdrop of a busy, densely populated and packed city, with everyone going about their daily business in an almost dreamlike state added to the argument of following the masses and not being an individual. The shot of Millennium Bridge and the point of view shot following everyone over shows the sense of, once again, following the masses along an unwavering and man-made  structure. Perhaps reading into it even further, a bridge is constructed for the purpose to keep us all on a set path until we reach the other side, which can be an incredibly profound piece of symbolism if chosen to be deconstructed to its extreme. There are many shots within the piece which highlight the same kind of meaning; such as a ship coursing down the river – the feeling of a constant and repetition in the flow which mirrors our lives when controlled by dominant discourse and the system we are bound to across the generations.

However, what did not work were the choice of shots to try to show examples of people who were being individuals, such as the strange, quirky or musically orientated street performers. As a viewer, it almost felt as if it was just a collection of random shots that were taken spontaneously with not much bearing or relevance on the theme of power and the message trying to be established. The message was to try to show the juxtaposition of the conforming, serious business side of society against the individual, light-hearted and carefree side, however, I do not think that this message came across very effectively.

The final sequence of the piece was also very personal to me and so this could greatly narrow where the artefact sits in the media world, as it immediately made it centred about one person. The idea was to have the piece be broad enough to speak to as many people as possible, as we are all controlled by dominant discourse at some point in our lives, but I think that this was lessened considerably with the inclusion of the sequence involving myself at the end. Also, some of the script and voice over may have been a bit blunt and lacked subtlety in terms of the imagery and argument that was being crafted. Although I usually gravitate more towards visual storytelling and symbolism than rather having it spoon-fed to the audience, I decided to change the approach this time around and I am not sure it was as effective as it perhaps could have been.

In conclusion, the power artefact still achieved what it set out to do; highlight the system we live in with a ‘live, work, die’ mentality and emphasise the dominant discourse and indoctrination we are forced to adhere to. There were perhaps just a lot more effective ways and subtleties that could have been employed in order to make a more solid, well-rounded artefact.

360MC: – Thoughts and Research for Power artefact

When looking at the concept of the individual and autonomy, I think that the power of will and overcoming the dominant discourse that is expected of us is an interesting basis for my Power artefact. It is a subject that can speak to everyone as we are all placed under some form of dominant discourse at some point in our lives, whether it be through parental control, teachers, the workplace or the government. The artefact would also deal with having the courage and drive to follow our dreams despite the naysayers and the power placed upon us to follow the norm and typical formula of ‘live-work-die.’ This self-policing or disciplinary power as theorised by Foucault is constantly forced onto us as we are expected to fit into society, like gears in a grand machine. According to Foucault, this was the most profound and effective use and initiation of power as all of the control comes from within, rather than an exterior force or governing entity.

Following this, I decided to watch a number of videos by famous motivational speakers, such as Les Brown and Eric Thomas, to attain some inspiration for the topics and issues they raise and how I could make something that deals with the same issues but focuses around individuals being the counter-discourse to society’s expectations; dominant discourse.

One of the most common elements is the idea of being an individual and striving hard to reach a goal you most want in life. As inspiring as this, it could be argued that we as individuals are not truly an ‘individual’ because we are part of many institutions and are thus part of the overall ‘system’ of society. We are made to believe we are an individual by the system itself but we are not. Whether this be through how we dress, our ambitions or our interests, everything has been careful crafted and generated in order to keep us in check under the facade that we have free-will. Although my artefact will not be a motivational speech such as the videos above, it will however channel the same line of arguments and importance of trying to break passed the system, despite the aforementioned paradox surrounding the issue. People always deep down have a dream that they are fighting for or wish they had continued to pursue, but many settle for something below their ability and submit to the power of institutions. We are indoctrinated into this line of thinking and reminded of it and influenced by it from the womb to the tomb. As such, it is a topic that is the epitome of the word ‘power.’

References:

Unknown. 2013. Dream – Motivational Video. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-jwWYX7Jlo [Accessed: 13 Oct 2013].

Unknown. 2013. Motivational – We are created to be individual by Eric Thomas LYRICS HD  Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3QpubKy8_s %5BAccessed: 13 Oct 2013].

Unknown. 2013. It’s Not Over Video Of Les Brown – Motivational Guru just by being himself  Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-jwWYX7Jlo [Accessed: 13 Oct 2013].

360MC: – Thinking Allowed, Michel Foucault

Building on from the initial thoughts of analysing discourse and after listening to the Thinking Allowed, Michael Foucault radio podcast, the theory of power can be associated with many areas within the media. In Foucault’s book Discipline and Punish, as highlighted in the aforementioned radio podcast, Foucault dismisses the idea of having to overthrow the state in order to bring about a shift in power and instead offered an alternate perspective. He acknowledged that power in the Marxist sensibility may have worked in the 17th century as an old regime, but that in the modern age he rejected the notion that power came from the ‘top’ of society i.e. politicians, monarchy, members of State. Foucault instead posed the idea that power is now brought about through ‘decentralised networks of institutions’, such as schools, hospitals and other such institutions that mould and shape our individuality, rather than the traditional views of the state. In these institutions we are taught to behave and act in a certain manner for years of our lives to the point that behaving in such a way just becomes second nature to us. These rules are also reinforced by parents and guardians who were themselves moulded to the previous institutions, leading to a constant repetition to our future generations. In this way, we initiate an overwhelming sense of self-control as we force ourselves to adhere to these principles; what Foucault called ‘disciplinary power.’

Panopticon

The best example of this is probably Jeremy Bentham’s designs for a prison called the Panopticon. This design sees a jail cell system that is constructed to all face inwards with clear windows and a central observational tower in the middle containing one guard. The point of this is to condition the prisoners to know that they could be being watched at all times in order to force them to individually self-discipline themselves. As the ‘inmates come to monitor themselves’ no one holds the power from the ‘top’. The minds of power become incorporated and enveloped in ourselves. This theme of voyeurism is greatly explored on a national and worldwide scale in George Orwell’s dystopian 1949 novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. With surveillance technology on the rise in our own society, it is safe to say that our society has become eerily similar to that highlighted in the fictional novel of Nineteen Eighty-Four. With disciplinary power burned into our minds, we keep ourselves in check and are observed from above to make sure we do. There have even been examples where the higher up in power have used surveillance technology to scrutinise others in the same level of the hierarchy, such as the controversial phone-hacking scandal that led to the closure of the News of the World newspaper in 2012 or more famously the 1970s Watergate scandal which led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation – the one and only case to date of a U.S. President resigning.

In conclusion, power in the media is a constant force that both affects and effects us on a continuous daily basis. We are born into and surrounded by a world of rules and regulations that are both enforced by those at the ‘top’ in power, as well as our own disciplinary power. In modern technology, in mostly e-media, we have to censor ourselves from fear of surveillance from above, such as how we act, what we search, how we convey ourselves in terms of both image and speech, and our own general online identity as a whole. We are all encouraged to be individuals, but these identities we choose for ourselves with the illusion of free-will are often subliminally enforced and guided to make certain decisions based on the environment we live in and the groups we choose to identify with. To fully grasp the extent as to which power has control over us and all of the facets it covers really becomes a snowball effect, as everything can be taken to the next logical extreme and elaborated on to the very inception of power. This concept of disciplinary power in moulding our destinies and futures is one that would be interesting to focus on in the power artefact.

References:

Orwell, G (1949). Nineteen Eighty-Four. London: Secker and Warburg.

Foucault, M (1977). Discipline and Punish: the birth of the prison. New York: Pantheon Books.

BBC Radio 4 – Thinking Allowed, Michel Foucault . 2013. BBC Radio 4 – Thinking Allowed, Michel Foucault . [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b038hg73. [11 October 2013].

Unknown. n.d. ‘Panopticon’. [image online] available from: www.constitutioncampaign.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/panopticon.png [11 Oct 2013].

Unknown. n.d. ‘Big Brother is watching you’. [image online] available from: http://blog.gabrielsaldana.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/1984.jpg %5B11 Oct 2013].

360MC: – Analysing ‘Power’

The term ‘power’ is one that is often thrown around the media world and is placed upon many controversial debates around political, social and economic matters. Before the theoretical side of the ‘power in the media’ can be deconstructed and assessed, it is important to first look at what the simple definition of the word ‘power’ is (according to Google):

POWER

“1. the ability or capacity to do something or act in a particular way.”

“2. the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behaviour of others or the course of events.”

These two definitions go more or less hand in hand with each other. The ability for an individual to act autonomously as an individual in society is often a facade or institution that has been created and is controlled by the people in ‘power’; the ones who can directly influence our behaviour. This is a fascinating concept as you only start to realise how much control we are placed under throughout our every day lives when you begin to deconstruct the very fabric of our society and hierarchical system; through discourse between the class system, our political make-up, and  capitalist culture.

However, looking at our hierarchical system further, the government is voted into power and held accountable by the general public; a collection of individuals. This ability grants the general public with an enormous and remarkable amount of power. Despite this, decisions such as this only come about by a very large majority of people united behind a certain cause, and are ineffective if individuals are scattered or dispersed. This is why revolutions, strikes and demonstrations can be so profound in that they are upheld by a significant amount of individuals in one place, thus providing a much stronger voice to their argument or line of reasoning. These events are usually orchestrated in order to overthrow, dismiss or challenge a particular discourse or institution.

Dominant discourse can come in a number of different forms. An example of this discourse is through rules and regulations that are enforced upon us from birth by parents. These guidelines mould and shape us into who we are for the rest of our lives; whether it be from manners, ways to dress, schools to attend, food to eat etc. Dominant discourse can also come from those higher up in ‘power’ such as the government who implement many rules on how we have to live that influence us on a daily basis. As individuals, we have the choice and autonomy to decide whether we wish to forever follow these discourses and be one among many in life, or choose to be an individual with our own mind and way of life.

In terms of a power artefact to create, this concept of a society based around dominant discourse would be an interesting area to explore, and the significant hardships and challenges we have placed upon us surrounding living a life we want to against living a life we are expected to.

References:

Google (2013) Power [online] available from: www.google.co.uk/#q=power+meaning [09 October 2013].

Unknown. n.d. ‘He-Man I have the power wallpaper’. [image online] available from: http://www.jobnimbus.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/tumblr_m336glqeNC1r04pibo1_500.jpg %5B09 Oct 2013].

360MC: – FMP Ideas Presentation – Video pitch for music videos

https://vimeo.com/76210016

Above is a video pitch I produced explaining my ideas for my FMP ideas of music videos. Since this post was published, I have pitched my ideas to my seminar group and the feedback was mostly positive. However, the criticism that was raised was directed to the writing of a song and forming a band before I could make a music video on it. I have taken this on board and have decided to drop that part of the idea, as it would take away too much time from the actual production side and the planning and shooting of the music video. It would also have been unpredictable in getting other band members to commit, especially if it was just a newly formed band. As such, I will now be seeking bands that have already been formed which will keep my project a lot more focussed.

As well as this, attention was drawn to the style of the ’80s glam metal’ music videos and how that would be impossible to produce for my FMP. For those type of music videos, style and aesthetic is everything (pyrotechnics, thousands of screaming fans, fashion and hairstyle) which would all be very hard to create. Because these factors would be absent from my FMP version of an 80s glam metal video, it would be taking away the very fabric and foundation of what makes those videos what they are; thus leaving a vacuous shell of a music video which does not complement the music with a loss of identity from what it should look like. This is very disheartening to me as 80s glam metal is the area in which I am most passionate about, but a criticism that I understand and can accept. As a media producer I wouldn’t want to produce something sub par to an area in which I love when compared to all of the great music videos that have come before.

This now means that I need to search for around three different bands to make a music video for. Whilst it’s a big letdown that I cannot produce what I initially intended, this now gives me the opportunity to explore multiple genres of music and produce differing videos which all boast their own unique visual quality and style. This will work better as it shows that I am versatile and can produce vastly different media pieces despite being in the same medium of music video. Thinking of the future as well, it broadens my contact list as a video editor and showcases that I can produce a great variety of work in a lucrative business of music videos. My FMP project will now greatly test my skills as an editor as I have to watch hundreds of music videos from many different genres in order to expand my knowledge and take similar aspects of videos I like and think about how I can reproduce them in a new and visually interesting way; making sure to maintain the three main areas of spectacle, power and memory.

Although I cannot produce an 80s inspired music video musically or visually, what I could do is take the attitudes and messages from within the songs and apply those to the narrative or my music videos for other genres (if it compliments the music accordingly). In this way, I would still be retaining an area of the music I love but amending it and applying it in my own unique way which may work out surprisingly well, especially when adapted into a modern era to see if the messages still resonate today.

In terms of research now, I need to contact as many bands that I can find and ask if I can produce a music video for them. I will ask as many bands as possible as some may drop out at the last-minute and so it is always better to over-plan.