Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Wednesday, March 4, 2015


A Sign - anything that makes meaning.
Can be a word, gesture, image, sound, object.
A sign as two components:
Signifier - the material; object or image being seen
Signified - meaning; message given off by images or object

clear representation of object itself, keeps characteristics

indicate something
connected with its meaning, not arbitrary
compare to icon - it is not the object itself
example -smiles indicate happiness

no resemblance to the real object
a result of convention
can only mean something if person knows (culture or previous knowledge)
Dove for Peace - no connection between the two, a convention
Letters and words are examples of symbols

Use cell phone to find icons, indexes and symbols.
Create indexes.
Make our own symbols.

source for above slides is slideshare

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Radio Lab Homework

Radio Lab
The main page for website is radiolab.org

Listen to the segment entitled American Football.

(flickr: Dewayne Neely/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Find at least three (3) connections to visual culture.
Write down your findings.
Bring to class on Tuesday, Feb. 10 for discussion.

The first link takes you to a Radio Lab website page that introduces the segment.
The second link takes you directly to the streaming.
If for any reason the links do not work, you are equipped with the necessary information to search the internet and find the the segment.



From the Radio Lab Website:
Today, we tackle football. It’s the most popular sport in the US, shining a sometimes harsh light on so much of what we have been, what we are, and what we hope to be. Savage, creative, brutal and balletic, whether you love it or loathe it … it’s a touchstone of the American identity.
Along with conflicted parents and players and coaches who aren’t sure if the game will survive, we take a deep dive into the surprising history of how the game came to be. At the end of the 19th century, football is a nascent and nasty sport. The sons of the most powerful men in the country are literally knocking themselves out to win these gladiatorial battles. But then the Carlisle Indian School, formed in 1879 to assimilate the children and grandchildren of the Native American men who fought the final Plains Wars, fields the most American team of all. The kids at Carlisle took the field to face off against a new world that was destroying theirs, and along the way, they changed the fundamentals of football forever. 
Correction: An earlier version of this episode included a few errors that we have corrected. We've also added one new piece of information. The piece originally stated that British football had no referees. We clarified that while this was true in the earliest days of British football, they were eventually added. We stated that referees were added to American football in response to Pop Warner. American referees existed well before Pop Warner and they were eventually required to address brutality in the game and the kind of rule bending that Pop Warner specialized in. Chuck Klosterman said that the three most popular sports in the US are football, college football and major league baseball. Baseball actually ranks 2nd, college football is third.  And Monet Edwards stated that 33 members of her family were players in the NFL. That number is actually 13. And we added the detail that over 200 students at The Carlisle Indian School died of malnutrition, poor health or distress from homesickness. The audio has been adjusted to reflect these facts.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


  1. a visually striking performance or display.
    "the acrobatic feats make a good spectacle"
    "a spectacle fit for a monarch"
    • an event or scene regarded in terms of its visual impact.
      "the spectacle of a city's mass grief"
      "they were rather an odd spectacle"

      1. a medieval singer or musician, especially one who sang or recited lyric or heroic poetry to a musical accompaniment for the nobility.
        • historical
          a member of a band of entertainers with blackened faces who performed songs and music ostensibly of black American origin.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Chapter 25, Carnival Mirrors: The Hermetic World of the Music Video

Music Video
From the text:
"an alternative world where image is reality"
"transfer the familiar aspects of our world"
"bring celebrities into our lives and create a sense of familiarity with people who would otherwise be remote"

Commedia dell'arte
comedy, artisans
16th century 
improvised performances
temporary stage
passing the hat
entertainment for high and low class
relate to peoples plight, exaggerating it

Source link and more info here.

Italian Renaissance
Cultural change and achievement
time period approx. 1400 - 1600
prior - Dark Ages, fall of Roman Empire, intellectual darkness, economic regression.
Learning Resources for the Italian Renaissance at The National Gallery of Art.  Link here.

Max Fleischer, Bunny Mooning (1937)

Music Video
Presentation of music and pictures together.
Visual aspects of musical acts become important  considerations for artists like Elvis Presley and the Beatles (appeared on TV and in film).
Mid-1980's video standard.
Closer connection to the stars.
Simulated live performances.

Launched 1981.  
Videos for everyone, all the time.
Previously 1940's 60's special equipment.
Switch to internet showing videos.
MTV goes to reality TV

Madonna, Vogue, 1980's, iconic images.
icon - a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something

Music Video and Commedia, Common Ground:
"use shorthand to communicate succinctly and visually".
"…the transformation potential of imagery and entertainment to create the bizarre, otherworldly, and intriguing qualities that characterize music videos."
"a narrative ultimately completed by the viewer"
-masks - key characters readily identifiable (important-quick reference for audience)
-mask of celebrity, mask is public image
-hold attention of viewer
-sexuality is spectacle, erotic movements and choreography
-Challenges idea of reality.
-messages of aggression, misogyny, drug culture to segments of the population that do not engage in these activities - cathartic experience. 

cathartic |kəˈTHärtik|adjectiveproviding psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions; causing catharsis: crying is acathartic release.Medicine (chiefly of a drug) purgative.nounMedicinea purgative drug.DERIVATIVEScathartically adverbORIGIN early 17th cent. (in medical use): via late Latin from Greek kathartikos, from katharsis cleansing (seecatharsis.

-one's virtue is maintained as long as identity is undisclosed.

Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Argo, Read and Listen, National Public Radio

Link here to listen, read and images.

Argo, Review, Wall Street Journal

A movie studio, Orson Welles famously said, is the best toy a boy ever had. Far from being a boy, Ben Affleck is his own man, a distinctive actor who, in recent years, directed "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town," a couple of medium-size movies that established him as an accomplished filmmaker. Now, as director and star of "Argo," he has deployed a studio's full-scale resources on an intrinsically dramatic story, and the results are nothing less than sensational. This political thriller has it all: a suspense plot centered on Americans in mortal peril during the Iranian hostage crisis that erupted in late 1979; a stranger-than-fiction subplot that was, in fact, concocted by the CIA to effect the Americans' escape; and a movie within the movie that's all the funnier for being fake.
The crisis began when Islamist revolutionaries stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took more than 50 Americans hostage. In the midst of the terror and chaos, however, six of them escaped into the streets, then took refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador. It's their tale the film tells, not that of the 444-day crisis in its sprawling entirety, and what a tale it turns out to be. (The factual details, declassified by President Bill Clinton in 1997, are brilliantly embellished in the screenplay that Chris Terrio based on a Wired Magazine article by Joshua Bearman.) To rescue the six before their whereabouts are discovered, the CIA's top "exfiltration" operative, Tony Mendez—a real-life figure played by Mr. Affleck—devises a cloak-and-camera plan to sneak into Iran, give the sequestered Americans new identities as Canadian filmmakers scouting locations for a sci-fi film called "Argo," then whisk them out on a regular commercial flight from Tehran's international airport.
As the Iranian revolution reaches a boiling point, a CIA 'exfiltration' specialist concocts a risky plan to free six Americans who have found shelter at the home of the Canadian ambassador. Video courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures.
It's often said of incredible but true stories that you can't make such stuff up. Sure you can; you're free to do whatever you want in the wonderful world of motion pictures. But you wouldn't want to make this story up if it weren't rooted in reality, because Tony's plan is, before anything else, utterly preposterous as well as inventive and wildly daring: "This is the best bad idea we have, sir," his superior, Jack O'Donnell (Bryan Cranston), tells the CIA's director in a meeting at Langley headquarters.
What makes the whole thing delicious in the bargain is that the CIA really did enlist Hollywood's help in creating a sham production company to give the agency's fake movie the ring of truth. John Goodman brings his droll wit to the role of John Chambers, the Hollywood makeup artist who was, in fact, Tony Mendez's friend and co-conspirator. As the fictional director Lester Siegel, an acidulous has-been who drives a gold Rolls-Royce, Alan Arkin gets some of the best lines—it would take too many asterisks to quote the topper, which becomes a running gag—and he turns a smallish part into a thriller's antic soul.
As the hero of the enterprise, Mr. Affleck is sufficiently restrained to be believable, yet he provides enough of a star presence to sustain what is, after all, a mainstream entertainment. As the director of a large and diverse cast, he has done himself proud: "Argo" abounds in fine actors—none of them household names—who don't look like they're acting at all. Victor Garber is the Canadian ambassador, while his six involuntary houseguests are played by Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Kerry Bishé, Christopher Denham, Clea DuVall and Rory Cochrane.
As a filmmaker working on a large canvas in a quasidocumentary style, Mr. Affleck rises to one challenge after another with a sure touch. (And with the help of such collaborators as the cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, the production designer Sharon Seymour, the editor William Goldenberg, and Alexandre Desplat, who did the original score.) Tony's crash program to teach his six frightened charges their assigned roles feels convincing and fresh. The sci-fi script, billed as a "cosmic conflagration" for the benefit of the Hollywood trade press, gets a reading by actors in full regalia at a Beverly Hills hotel during a set piece that's staged with a delightfully straight face. The action sequences, with revolutionaries on a rampage in an epic conflagration, combine news clips culled from archival sources—shades of Walter Cronkite and Peter Jennings, plus a doggedly optimistic Jimmy Carter—with footage adeptly shot and directed to look archival.
The production plays fast with events of the period, but not loose. A lucid introduction puts Iran's 1979 revolution in the historical context of the 1953 coup, engineered by U.S. and British intelligence agencies, that replaced the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mossadegh with an increasingly repressive regime headed by Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The revolutionaries themselves are neither demonized nor romanticized; it's quite remarkable how many of the perfervid young soldiers and gimlet-eyed bureaucrats come to life, however briefly, as individuals. (It's also remarkable how the advent of the film coincides with yet another crisis involving Iran.) Most studio productions these days are about nothing but entertainment; this one treats the world of volatile politics, both at home and abroad, with mature interest and respect.
Yet it does so with a flair for showmanship. "Argo" is a movie about storytelling that tells its own story briskly and clearly; there's very little fat on the narrative bones. It's a movie about movies that savors the medium's silliness. Mr. Goodman's bottom-feeding makeup artist could be an escapee from "Ed Wood," or one of Wood's sleazy productions. After listening to Tony outline his desperate scheme, he asks: "So you want to come to Hollywood and act like a big shot without doing anything?" When Tony says "Yeah," the makeup man replies gleefully, "You'll fit right in." The script is smart about the medium's allure: Tony wouldn't have a chance of pulling his scheme off if the Iranians, like everyone else in this star-struck world, weren't instantly intrigued by the prospect of a movie being made.
And "Argo" exults in what a movie can do when its story has a compelling core. There's been no shying away from the joys of expert manipulation, no reluctance to heighten the fact-based drama with fictional inventions. What's startling is that the invented elements have been done so well. (One tolerable, perhaps inevitable, exception is a moist, uplifting coda.) Without giving any plot points away, I can tell you that a climactic scene turns on a marvelous surprise, and promise you frequent spasms of suspense that will grow almost unbearable. If you've forgotten how gratifying a Hollywood studio film can be, this is the best good idea you could ask for. -source link here