Power artefact: – https://vimeo.com/77370480
Spectacle artefact: – https://vimeo.com/78491086
Memory artefact: – https://vimeo.com/79585063
As I went on a trip to London to film my Power artefact with limited time, it enabled me to think of ideas for shots and sequences whilst on location. This gave me a greater ability to be spontaneous and improvise, which will be a key skill for when I come to film my final media project (FMP) of three music videos. Although in terms of music video shoots, there will have to be considerable amounts of meticulous preparation and an edit plan in place beforehand, there may come a time where particular shots are made up on the fly. I have often found in the past that some of my best shots were filmed on the spot, rather than being carefully planned and orchestrated at an earlier date, as I feel this can showcase pure inspiration.
In terms of my spectacle artefact, I believe this has developed my professional practice in both the technical and theoretical side. This task more than any other really tested my abilities as an editor, as I had to emulate a similar visual style to a completely different medium; video games. This posed a great challenge to me as, once again, I had to think spontaneously of how I could apply what I already knew in order to achieve an aesthetic style I had never experimented with before. As I want to become a video editor in the future, this was extremely beneficial to me and has inspired me to hone my skills in this field even more. Also, my FMP is based around filming music videos, and so the editing will be of paramount importance in order to construct an appropriate tone and pace. In terms of the theory, I have found that reading into such theorists as Michel Foucault, Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard to name a few has not only greatly reinforced my understanding of these themes in the media, but has also made me very conscious of them in my everyday life. As I believe that my Spectacle artefact was the strongest of the three, it has become clear to me that this was because I read into the theories surrounding the topic matter a lot more. For my professional development, this has shown me that it is imperative to become well-versed in media theory in order to apply a lot more context and substance to a project.
My memory artefact also enabled me to see the importance of putting your heart and soul into a project. As my artefact was incredibly personal to me, I naturally put a lot more deeper emotional value into it which I believe translated over to the final piece. Although I am aware that not all future projects have to be emotional, it is important to be completely invested in it and it has to mean something to the person and team making it.
Overall, all three artefacts have had an incredibly profound impact on me which will influence my professional practice in all future projects. It has become apparent to me how each of the different theories surrounding Power, Spectacle and Memory all culminate together, and how it is important to combine these in order to produce a piece that contains both substance and integrity. Although for my FMP these theories will probably not be implemented, they are still important knowledge to have as they could influence ideas generation and future projects. It has also become apparent to me to continue to read into media theory in order to flesh out my understanding of the context that is applied in the media world.
My chosen artefact for assessment is ‘Spectacle’ .
My spectacle artefact is based around constructed reality and the dominant presence of consumerist culture within a false-reality; set in a video game environment. The point of the piece is to show the multiple levels of control placed upon us and the facade of what our reality has become.
After viewing and playing many sequences from game developer Quantic Dreams’ Heavy Rain, I wanted the spectacle artefact to be as close in design as possible to the gameplay, yet still retain the core theories put forth by Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard in terms of ‘society of the spectacle’ and Simulacra.
The main ‘spectacle’ that I wanted to deal with in the artefact was consumerist culture and a completely mediated world surrounded by advertising, marketing and branding. All of these themes culminate into a resounding sense of control and manipulation as we live in our constructed fantasy world. This theme of control is highlighted in a number of ways within the artefact.
Firstly, the control of the various shops and branding giants who market their products in such a way that it draws vast crowds of individuals to exchange money to purchase goods.
Secondly, the literal controlling of the video game character with the Playstation controller. In this spectacle of a video game, the player takes control of a character and explores a fantasy world and environment to achieve a certain objective. The character is moved by the player and is told which decisions to make, just like the player himself in the grand scheme of the spectacle. Although the player is given multiple choices to advance the game in a different way, these decisions are worded in such a way that they would ultimately lead to the same destination anyway, thus following everyone else to the same fate around him. However, whichever decision he ultimately makes is left to the audience’s interpretation; reflecting on our own conscious decisions to choose to follow or remain distant from the ‘spectacle.’
Lastly, the control placed upon the actual player. Although it may appear that this individual is isolated from the overwhelming sense of the spectacle due to the fact he is playing a video game, he is still part of it in his life and the very action of playing the game. Although it is not shown, it is implied that at some point the player would have been in the same decision as the video game character himself. He would have had to have made the conscious decision to enter the shopping environment, walk into a store and exchange money to purchase the game. This therefore once again shows the spectacle of the high street and branding in general and that “…it is now impossible to isolate the process of the real, or to prove the real.” (Baudrillard, 1983: 41)
In terms of where the artefact sits in the media world, the concept is very similar to that of the 1998 film The Truman Show which also deals with constructed reality in a satirical social science movie. Following this, the 1999 film The Matrix also dealt with similar issues of control and theories surrounding ‘the spectacle’, which shows that audiences are interested in concepts surrounding these themes.
The intended audience of this piece is probably between the teenage and mid to late 20s demographic, who are the regular consumers of video games and would understand the application of the gameplay style as shown in the artefact. In terms of the underlying messages and themes, however, these could be picked up on by any age of audience as the idea of consumerist culture is universal in some aspect or other.
Baudrillard, J. (1983) Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e) Inc.
The Matrix. 1999. [film] United States: The Wachowski Brothers.
The Truman Show. 1998. [film] United States: Peter Weir.
Unknown. n.d. ‘The Truman Show wallpaper’. [image online] available from: http://marinablue.m.a.pic.centerblog.net/o/15671af9.jpg [26 Nov 2013].
Memory is a very complex idea that has been theorized many times in the past, by theorists such as Maurice Halbwachs and Paul Connerton. These deal with the themes of ‘collective memory’ and ‘social memory’ respectively. Because memory is an immensely broad subject matter that leads to many different areas, adequate research was key in order to form an initial idea for the artefact.
Although often considered a cliche’, primary research was conducted by looking through my family’s photo-albums in order to recall past events and family members that are no longer here. What became suddenly apparent was the repetition of life as time moves through the generations which was also visually evident from the actual quality of photograph; from black and white to modern high-definition colour. The feeling of holding these memories in a physical and tangible medium was also very moving and profound, although it became evident that the emotion that is generated from looking at photographs is not created by the photos themselves. Instead, these serve as the catalyst that makes the viewer or participant recollect their own memories of that incident and this is instead what causes the emotion; the exclusive memories of the individual. To continue the research, I asked many of my family members what their individual memories of certain photographs were in order to compare how well they remembered the particular event and to see the correlation between different interpretations; false-memory.
Secondary research was also conducted by watching as many different films and televisions shows that dealt with the idea of memory, or have memory play a prominent role. These included the television series Lost as well as the 2012 film Cloud Atlas. Both of these deal with memory and collective memory in very personal ways; with Lost being very self-reflective through the use of flashbacks, flashforwards and flashsideways which adds to the emotional resonance of the themes within the episode; whilst Cloud Atlas deals with collective memory spanning generations through all different stages of life. By watching key emotional scenes within these, it helped form an idea of pace and tone that could be applied cinematically in style to the filming process of the artefact which would hopefully channel the same level of emotion.
Building on from these television shows and films, it felt important to research the key theorists of ‘memory’ in order to fully grasp the themes and context that would be dealt with in the artefact. The theorists that were looked at were Maurice Halbwachs and Paul Connerton, who dealt with ‘collective memory’ and ‘social memory’ respectively. However, one thing that was noticeable in terms of ‘memory’ was that no matter if it is collective or social, it still retains an infinitely personal quality to the individual. Even if a group of individuals were to witness the same event, each person’s memory of that incident would be different, no matter how slight it may be.
When researching narrative, the best kind of stories are the ones that can reach and speak to as many people as possible and so a narrative was employed that many if not all of us go through or will go through at some point in our lives; the event of moving out of one’s original home in order to build a new future. The effect of this, like looking at photographs, stirs some recollection or collective memory among the audience which hopefully allowed the emotion to come through as “it is in society that people normally acquire their memories.” (Halbwachs, 1992: 38)
Halbwachs, M. (1992) On collective memory. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Unknown. 2010. Plane Landing at LAX. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Kg4J_4W4_0 [Accessed: 15 Nov 2013].
Unknown. 2012. The Ending to Cloud Atlas. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAKLzaFYCOY [Accessed: 15 Nov 2013].
‘Spectacle in the media’ is such a broad term as it mends itself with many facets of our society and life. Although initially what came to mind was to create an artefact that was visually impacting and striking to the viewer, it was also important to look at the alternative meaning of ‘spectacle’; the false-reality and media-constructed world we live in.
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 was the most inspiring was 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 for inspiration and reading into the themes more, this element of a virtual world is a fascinating concept, and one that everyone can be aware of.
With the initial idea for the tone and theme now in place, the original idea developed as the topic of ‘virtual world’ was deconstructed. 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 certain objective – all of which is not real and is entirely constructed. This therefore has many comparisons with living life through the ‘spectacle’. When thinking about video games that graphically look as 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 to full effect and have helped craft much more believable emotional depth within their characters. Quantic Dreams’ games always tend to use ‘reaction commands’ or ‘quick time events’ as their core gameplay and let the story and characters reinforce the rest.
Debord’s and Baudrillard’s theories on spectacle seemed to fit well into this idea, with the resounding question of ‘who is playing whom?’, bringing in themes of control, false-reality and media-manipulation.
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].
Unknown. n.d. ‘The Matrix wallpaper’. [image online] available from: http://6269-9001.zippykid.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Matrix-Live-Wallpaper-For-Pc.jpg [26 Nov 2013].