Raw Shock: A Study of Cultural Conformity

My video is finally finished. I feel that it has reached a state that I am comfortable with calling done, so that it can be digested by my viewers. I still have a lot of unused footage that I may expand into a larger project in the future. I plan to keep working on it, but I do feel satisfied in having something that feels complete to communicate my message. My message is something that has changed over time, but it is something that I think still meets my goals in a satisfactory manner. At first, I imagined that my video would end up being a sort of true-to-life story from a personal perspective in my ambition to pass on some of the experiences I have had for the benefit of others in a humorous, American Movie sort of way. Instead, my finished project turned out to be a tighter, more honed and brief video with less direct narrative value than originally planned. It relies more on suggestion, dialogue, use of symbols, and personal relationship. There is also significantly less humor that made it into the final cut than I imagined. Instead, there are more personal, inside jokes and incidental humor that have translated into the video's development. I do not think that these qualities are bad, as they do seem to have been necessary for a strong and more direct development of content. My video now feels more like an honest portrayal of a period in my life and a reflection of this transitional state as a person. After showing it in public for the first time at Lawrence University's New Media Showcase the other night, I have found more comfort and reassurance in my final video than I expected. I was given a great deal of positive feedback without any real negative criticism, which whether good or bad is a first for me. This has made me feel more confident in my abilities to navigate mixed media projects and it has shown me the value of what I have actually done. It is easy to overlook some of the significance of a project while working towards completion, but having shown my video and rested on this incarnation of my story for a while, I have been able to see more value in my own work. My video has also become a tool and a statement for my analysis and ability to cope with these events and circumstances in my life. They help me look more closely and examine the issues that have affected me most in the process of re-Americanizing. There were certain challenges in presenting a narrative that dwells on a lot of past events and changes that were largely internal and not on video to share with the viewer. I was uncertain as to how my handling of these topics would really work out, but towards the end of editing everything began to fit in a synergistic fashion and the response of viewers has shown me that I was affective in communicating my ideas to them without sacrificing the humorous or realistic aspects of my content. I hope that this video also has the ability to reach others and enable them to relate the issues I have been grappling with to their own situations, so that they can deal with their own circumstances better or at least look at things from a different point of view. I hope that in seeing the construct that I present, others will continue to question some of the topics of cultural identity, adaptation, and personal opinion that I have raised.

Jordan Severson


Just a step away

It is sometimes really helpful for me to think about progress in steps or separate phases. That way I keep moving and focus on one thing at a time, but when I look back I see that I have accomplished more than I am aware of even after I started thinking about my video in a final phase. Once it got to a certain degree of finish I started thinking of things in terms of finishing touches on a minor scale, but in some ways I have been doing more work or at least more intensive alteration since I have entered this stage. There are always a few more things that I'd like to tweak and play around with. I hope that feeling serves the project well, but I also I hope I do reach a state where I can feel satisfied with the product to feel like the video has reached my original or revised set of goals and encapsulates the message that I want viewers to receive. I have been working to swap out and trim down some of the current scene choices to make the video a bit tighter, more direct, and more effective.

The result of changing, trimming,and adding footage, not to mention credits and titles, has put me very near 10 minutes. I think that means I still have a good minute and a half by which to reduce my video so that I safely fit within the confines of the ten minute viewing timeslot with a brief introduction and maybe a question or two, barring technical difficulties. I hope to avoid technical difficulties by starting to think about putting my project on dvd middle to late next week when I still have time to work out kinks in the final stages of development. This week I have done a lot of tedious fiddling with minor parts to get them right, find a medium between abrupt and lengthy transitions, add some subtle filters for emphasis and some aesthetic purpose(rather than unnecessary dazzle), and try to consider solutions for some of the criticism I have received. So far, these general issues seem to be getting resolved better than I anticipated.

My next concern is music. I want to keep the strongest portions of the video intact without detracting with music, but I think it will also help make some of the less effective transitions work, and generally help hold the video together. I am a bit apprehensive because I don't want to disrupt the current tone of the film or overemphasize it too much, just compliment it. I have been dabbling with Garageband and I have started recording material for background sound, but I am not far enough along to say how much it will help. I definitely think music is important to the communication of a vision if applied more judiciously than arbitrarily. One of my concerns is vocal use. I think that is the most effective and also the most dangerous part of adding music. I don't want to steal anything from dialogue, but some parts may not make sense to have solely instrumental music. Both can be powerful if used well. I have also been trying to find the right angle on my working title. Here are some of my considerations:

Un/Familiar Voyage
Reverse Shock: An Uncanny Journey
Raw Shock: A Story of Return
Raw Shock: A Study in Cultural Adaptation

I think that the title should be open to interpretation to make the viewer wonder, but also be applicable enough to suggest that some kind of analysis is taking place.


Jordan Severson

First, kill classic rock

I was very interested in James Danky's presentation for a number of reasons. I have been a pretty avid comicbook reader since I was a child. I can remember trips to the comic book store, and waiting patiently for my subscription to Spider-man, Thor, Wolverine, or some other book to begin arriving in the mail. That I still think that anticipation was one of the greatest parts about being a child. I also have a deep appreciation for underground and DIY movements. Naturally I respect and find intrigue in the combination of these two in the format of underground comix. I have also found an interest in zines and other narrowly circulated, independent works. They appeal to my thirst for creativity and shared knowledge, as well as my belief that everyone should have an outlet and ability to produce something creatively to share their ideas and experiences. James made a lot of interesting references that were the benefit of his experience as a historian and his understanding of the way that unlikely sources may influence someone's work. It really does take a lot to change ideas and concepts that are currently being practiced, which is why such an underground movement as comix can be so fascinating. From zines and underground newspapers into more social and political issues in the more difficult to market artwork of Clay Wilson or Wilt Elder, Danky found relevance and history where no one else was seeking it. Danky was able to find meaning and importance in all these deviant artworks as demonstrated by the comparisons with classical art that he made with his students. This interest and relevance continued until recognition for these works started to come and eventually changed to movement drive the artists into other areas and even mainstream for a new kind of attention. The fact that Danky picked up on something to research and investigate that no one else paid any attention to, demonstrates how perceptive an individual he is. It takes a careful eye and a lot of courage to start something that no one else cares about. I am glad that people like Danky are around to start looking into what no once else gives attention to.

Jordan Severson

The Radicant: the end, the beginning, or just another root?

Nicolas Bourriaud closes his book with a summation of concepts--being tied together? He addresses issues of appropriation, copy, and decisions. He makes an interesting point in that the fast-paced world of today continues to value time over space so that duplications are no big deal. people are borrowing and using shortcuts to produce, perhaps putting less effort into their own contributions expecting that someone else will borrow from them in turn. Is this the answer to the questions we have about the future of art? Does this provide us with what we came seeking when we picked up the Radicant? While all these concepts may prove thought provoking, I have to wonder if this is what is really happening. Have people really begun to abandon effort and craftsmanship for convenience and ease? I think some have, but I do not think that this is all we have to look forward to. Is Bourriaud guilty of these transgressions (perhaps innovations to him) himself? This book relies heavily on connections by nature, are all these references and thoughts something new, something old re-hashed to appear less lazy, or something different?

Monsieur Bourriaud, have I not been patient with you and your ideas? Why do you leave so many unanswered questions, hasty proclamations, and half-solutions? Why must you leave a bad taste in my mouth? Should a radicant ever really meet itself to become so entangled or neatly wrapped up and controlled by its own roots? Shouldn't it expand on into the infinite without the traditional closure of a book? If the author believes so adamantly in the future of art, the internet, mixed media, etc. and has such a great understanding of the direction in which these things will progress, why does he even bother with the obsolete format of a printed book? Why should he even publish his work? Why wasn't it composed and limited to exist solely on the internet, the vehicle of his radicant? Should I have obtained a Kindle and read this book through that lens to understand what I am missing? Why are he and his writing so obviously French and Franco-minded in a day when the ever-diverse radicant is drawing from whatever sources are of relative convenience, regardless of individual culture or perspective? Could not these views or exercises be demonstrated in a more complete way? How limited is the thought of one who extols limitless possibilities? How does one provide so little when one purports to have so many explanations?

Ok, N.B.
Good talk.

Jordan Severson

p.s. Radicant, Altermodernism, Post-post, etc. would it be too much to ask that some better terminology be developed? Words need not be slaves to the concepts they describe.