Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Oh Mr. Hunter can you loan me a dime?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Phones, Pro-Ana, Wikipedia, Abortion & Flash Mobs

Ok so, I write this long post about how I believe in sharing, cooperation, community, and collective actions using social media to create this utopia and really...while working, a real life episode of the Office breaks out involving a social media drama that includes elements of claiming ownership of my documents, misappropriate emails and puts me in a really bad mood. It was about 903 words of this stuff and though it might very well be related, to the public and media, I just decide...naaa. I'm not writing on that. Snooze...boring. It seems to indicate that I might not be compassionate and really, it is not worth the that I could write about it as it happens almost every day. So enough.

I decide to comment about the social side of media and the public.

I love how the guy, Evan, gets his girl...I mean her phone that is. I love justice was served. It was so Southern-like, take the law in your own hands and make em pay, dude. That's what he did. He was relentless and he had the etools. It was very cool. Almost to the point of maybe a little uncool. Maybe a little over the top. Maybe a little stalker-like.

Me? I might just consider upgrading, and hey guy, just buy her a new frickin phone why don't ya? But hey, that's just me and we would have missed the whole point of the book. Right? So I read on about Xanga, mass messages, and bulk advertising.

Then Saturday, I have the honor and privilege of being a juror of my local high school art exhibit. 52 pieces of social insight to the young teenage mind. It was beautiful...awesome. One of my favs was quite a disturbing piece of Pro-Ana. It was so loaded with teenage angst. The skinny midriff, squeezed in the skin (and bone) tight tape measure belt, with all kinds of written messages in the corners about how no one can control this girl and make her eat...Ouch...Scary stuff. Many pieces were more than visual. They were loaded guns, shooting out cultural commentary. I loved this textural, visual, tangible, hold-it-in-your-hands type media. I guess you can say this is old school art but it related to the YM piece in Shirky's book about the Pro-Ana girls who overtook the YM social media project with their "thinspiration" make me puke til I am beautiful statement about what young girls perceive as what "Beauty is..."

As I read about exposures of cultural issues like phone theft, anorexia, child molestation, and abuse of power defended by the church, I see each injustice has a kind of viral characteristic to it...doesn't it? Viral media. Something is broken in public commentary. Something is sick and everyone is talking about it. And it is easy to talk when you are not face to face.

Then I read about Wikipedia's origin...being written and re-written, when defamed then reclaimed to include such essential topics of freedom of speech as abortion, Islam, and evolution. I thought...why not comment on one of these issues myself?

Then I flip on the tube and watch an old episode of Law and Order. This segment is very poignant to me as it is about a man who kills a doctor who aborted his son because he has a genetic disorder called Ehler's Danlos. Now this really ticks me off because I know the most beautiful, intelligent person, who happens to be about the best teacher in the world. She teaches for pennies in a low income area of Texas sometimes 10 to 12 hours a day, and would secretly do it for free. And yes, she has Ehler's Danlos. Abortion could have been a choice with this life and yes it is personal... and I personally, in my most feminist way, do not believe in it. Personally. This mutant gene-child is awesome, valuable, and grand in her beautifully created way. I am thankful that she was not aborted. Yes. Yes. Yes. And people say television doesn't have significant impact on the way people think and feel.

So (moving right along in concert with the book)there was the flash mob. FLASH and the PacWe Flash Mob occurred on Sunday...I didn't go. But I did see the value of it. I wish I had been there amoung my artist friends to fight the good cause for health care reform in the art-heart of Dallas - Artist Americans...I like that...wearing yellow slickers (for $2.00) It was truly a great cause. And after all, I did participate in spirit by viewing my FaceBook feeds while reading this book for class.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sphere of public illusion – what you see is what you get?

I don’t watch the news on TV much anymore. I haven’t for a long time now, maybe five or ten years. I just stopped. I still pay for the newspaper but mostly just out of habit or just for what it represented – a sweet memory of my dad sitting in his easy chair reading after a long day at work.

I rarely read it. What the newspaper means to me today is an opportunity to doze on the couch for short moments of time each Sunday, while my husband edits the high points for me, relaying snips of this and snips of that.

I admit, I use to be one of the few who indulged in the guilty pleasures of the Quick, before the target age range shifted to the 20-30 year old mentality.

What has replaced the news is fluff, disasters, or hoaxes…I guess someone has decided, through surveys or public opinion, that this is what the public wants to hear, not the real, controversial, cutting edge news. I shy away from the news because I no longer trust the content. It typically represents some concocted tale, some half baked truth or a full-fledged lie. It appears that we the public wait to be fed from the media who

“systematically creating or exploiting news events that attract attention …engineering of consent…which leads to staged public opinion” Pieter Boeder

Yes, people want to hear about what Paris Hilton’s latest escapades are, or Jessica Simpson’s little murdered dog, or the balloon boy hoax. We put cameras inside homes to see what happens in the (fake) real world…then we have 8 babies by artificial insemination, just to get that coveted slot on TV. We give talk shows about topics that will sway the masses…like Oprah newest religious craze, fad diet, or even weep with her when she has gives a huge donation to support some meaningful cause.

Meanwhile, we talk among ourselves in our cubicles at work, discussing these events, as if they occurred in own families. We are equally enthralled and equally disgusted with it all.

I remember 9/11 and the impact it made on my opinion of the enemy. Then I was later told the enemy is within. I saw the war as the answer, and shamefully watched as thousands died …again. Although I was very young, I was around during Viet Nam. Why did I fall for it again?

Media is powerful. It is controlled by political, economical, social and cultural organizations, who wield power using force, fame, farce, money, or by presenting an illusion of all that is good and grand. Look, Barbie is the female model of perfection. (check out my social commentary using betty on this cultural issue -

Every detail of the rich and famous’ lives are scrutinized in every form of media, in hopes that the public can be like them or publically tear them to shreds for not succeeded in their illusionary picture-perfect life constructed by the media. Crazies even feed off them and stalk them to the point of madness, assault, and even death. (Yes John is dead)

Oh some forms of media are great. We can text, chat, and blog easily to others at great distances and receive instant feedback. We don’t have to brush our hair, bath, or even brush our teeth. Our avatar represents us well. And we can dream up some perfect personae of the person we are corresponding with on the other end of virtual world.

We can create music, without an actual instrument. We can form a relationship without experiencing human touch. We can vote on the latest dancer’s ability to dance the Tango in Dancing with the Star’s, or judge a singer’s ability to sing, or a chef’s ability to cook. We can select a new piece of clothing from eBay, or buy an electronic book from Amazon without leaving our dwelling. All of these things are examples of how the media has changed culture, public opinion and is commercially driven by the consumer. It is downright constitutional…created for the people by the people.

Oh how I long to sit by a fire with dozens of friends, and share a tale of long ago. Oh to sing along with others, jamming with old fashion instruments, like guitars, drums, and harmonicas. Or to share a meal with others while debating politics, the economy, religion, or just discuss the weather conditions. That is where I will be in several weeks. I will shoot some film images of the desert with my Rolleiflex, eat some chili, and listen to music around a campfire. I will hug old friends, talk about this last year, and make a toast to another year that has brought exciting new changes. And later, I will lie under the sky, watching my favorite media of choice – the stars, without my iPhone, my computer, or a GPS. For a few days I will be lost in the great outdoors, without public opinion… Oh how sweet it will be.

Monday, October 12, 2009

My discursive comments on Karl Marx and Stuart Hall

Media and the question of the public. My discursive comments on Karl Marx and Stuart Hall, revolution, culture, codes, encoding and decoding, signifiers, the knowledge of the elite, the privileged creating a dominant meaning, sell a product and the masses buy it. Swaying the masses by assuming that they know what is right, just, and best for their viewers, and then leading the masses with a dominant cultural order towards chaos? Marx says something like this, “Man succumbs to work, rules, and materialism. There life is not altered by consciousness but consciousness is determined by life.”

People must understand codes and context of a message to receive it, realize, comprehend for it to then take effect. People can also be manipulated, seduced and led to slaughter if they are not careful.

These are thoughts that I have in response to the readings. Fragmented statements from the reading that ring true as signs of our times. Circular loops, in communication, in history, in culture, yet there is productions, distribution and then reproduction, upheaval, then renewal of our society.

It appears we are going through a period of inversion as Marx puts it. I like this concept. I like the idea of flipping things around and turning them inside out. This is how I work with art. I try things one way, then invert, flip it and try it another way. Try it inside out. This works for me. It is like the pendulum swinging one way and then going the polar opposite, except this time it is flipping right over.

We are in an age, where a shift is occurring, where capitalism has been dominant but it is being questioned. The sheep are getting wise. We have followed, like sheep, the American dream, of owning things, houses, cars, retirements plans, stuff…We have fallen into a trap of the American way like American Beauty. We have witnessed the rise and are now seeing the decline of this way of thought. We bought into this false dream. Now it is crumbling. It’s time to invert again. The American dream owned us and we became the slave of it. It’s time to invert.

I have an image that speaks volumes about the current state of capitalism. As I am reading Marx and I drive down my street. I see this house that is going up for auction as a result of foreclosure. There is a sign in the front of the house. It says Capitalism Did This, Here is the image:

Michael Moore’s movie says it all. I think of Marx and this idea of ownership. I think how we are sucked into the idea of capitalism and it has backfired. Here is a tangible example of capitalism gone wrong. People keep taking the sign down in the yard at this house on our street. They don’t want to see it. It is a painful reminder. I like the sign. I think it should remain standing. It is a reminder of what could happen to each of us. It is a wake up call.

I think Marx is talking about Communism as the order of the working class where common man becomes aware that he is being dominated by the bourgeois (fooled). Once aware, man rises up, asks questions with a social voice and questions our cultural norms. When the common man is the majority, the group creates a new voice, a new language, a new code, we hold agreement, and speak a common language and revolt against what is seen as injustice from those who hold power, property, wealth, and control. We make a change.

The problem with this is that there is always someone that wants power, control, and dominance. When someone perceives that they know what is good or best for someone else, then they impose a code, speak a language of control and hold it over others. Then a culture is formed, and power is welded. Sheep/man follow what they perceive is right and acceptable and flock together, even if it is right off a cliff such as that of capitalism.

With communication, and television as spoken about in Stuart Hall’s piece, the coders or producers, discerns what they think is the audience, what the audience will “perceive, reason, internalize, make a behavioral modification and act on as a result.”

In the Bible there was an event similar to this change. People found the Way. In Acts, everyone joined together, had a common code, sold everything, pooled the money together, shared the wealth, helped everyone, and live a peaceful unified life. There was an inversion in that awakening.

Really, no one owns anything. God rules all. For man, he may hold a deed and pass it on to his children. But man lives a very short moment in time, like a blade of grass, and then the land goes to someone else. It is really a circular game.

I think life, like language and discourse, have levels of understanding. Some think deeper than others. No matter how deep you may go to understand it, no matter how much you may think about something, and try to figure things out, it still remains a code, a chain of discourse that goes on and on and on…

Friday, October 9, 2009

new site...

Monday, October 5, 2009

a new media event...a liquid cultural interface

As I read Lev Manovich and think about new media, cultural interface, variability, choices and appealing to the uniqueness of the audience, I can't help but comment on my weekend. I just got home from the mud fest...yes...ACL Music Festival in Austin, Tx. This physical event was loaded with new media options. Although it was promoted as a music festival, a performance-based media extravaganza is a better description. It rained, it poured, it flooded new media.

Bus transportation, pedicabs, and biking was encouraged via broadcast prior to the event to reduce pollution and traffic congestion. Maps were distributed by volunteers who also handed out 40 free downloads along with the printed venue. But this was not really necessary as everything was provided via digital media.

Each ticket holder was given a link to a special app created for the event developed by Seed Labs. This little app enabled viewers to be totally connected at all times via iPhone or electronic device. I could view the lineup, create my schedule, and check the audience counts at any given time. I could view who was currently playing at each stage, locate the food, activities, and even recycle locations from my e-map. And yes I could sync up my phone with my FaceBook account while experiencing the event and even follow Dave’s Tweets although I must admit, I did not during the shows.

Online, I could see how many people were scheduled to attend each event and the numbers changed as the crowd changed their schedules real-time and as the storm clouds blew in. No worries, weather was no detourant for this crowd.

While there, we texted, recorded video using iPhones and cameras, and shared live songs feeds with our friends.

The acts were more performance based to reach the mass appeal of the primarily 25 to 35 demographics. Large screens, techno- lighting, and video feeds accompanied the audio events. Acts were short and sweet. Those longer than 1 hour seemed too long for the short attention spans of those in the crowd (mine included).

By coming equipped with an iPhone, one could locate who is Now Playing, easily switch venues, and circulate to all of the corresponding events while drinking a beverage, and planning the next event or the rest of your day.

It was digital. It was textual, visual, audio, personal, yet public at the same time. It allowed each viewer random access and provided interactivity.
Phones and small cameras were allowed, so the viewer could be a co-authors to the event. Digital access was real-time and participation was made-to-order.

I think this was a perfect example of a new media event that Manovich is speaking about in his book. More importantly the words variable, mutable, and liquid (no pun intended) would apply to this event. It appealed to the cultural consumers of today and I was one of the masses.