Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Informers

'The Informers' based on the novel by Bret Easton Ellis is an addictive movie. Its unresolved ending left me wanting more. Themes of nihilism, sexual hedonism and the superficial glitter of youth and wealth run through several different stories set in Los Angeles to a 1980s soundtrack. The bland boredom of the leisure class is contrasted with the sheer desperation and abuse of the working poor. The excess of the Reagan era is dampened by the arrival of the HIV virus and somehow sex will never be the same again.

Easton Ellis has an eye for detail and a sensitivity to the human condition. His stories illustrate the frailty and faults that come with being human. Even though most of his bored rich kid characters are loathsome at times they all seem quite sad too.
From a formalist perspective the film appears glossy and bright with L.A. sunshine; scratch beneath the surface though and you're confronted with some repulsive, horrific truths.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lyle the intern legend

Lyle makes blogging seem easy and fun by using a videocamera to record entries. I really like his humor, it seems spontaneous and ad libbed. He appears totally in the moment and wonderfully wacky. His content is refreshingly original and dangerously out there!I was shocked when I saw him do this skit on the Letterman show a month ago. He made me want to do a videoblog!
He also did a skit about his internet show. both of these skits poke fun at public creation of internet media.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Different ways of thinking

I've been reading 'A Confucian Perspective on Learning to be Human' by Tu Wei Ming (1985) for the subject 'Understanding Asia'. It explains the Confucian 'faith'. The Confucian scholar or ju is similar to a modern day scholar in the humanities. However they are also engaged with the community and interested in the well-being of humanity.

"This critical self-awareness, informed by one's openess to an ever expanding circle of human relatedness, is the authentic access to one's proper destiny." (Tu Wei-Ming p.63)

Its liberating to learn about other religions and philosophies that are so different to a western, christian tradition. It will be interesting to see the effects on the media that come from China's growing economic power.

Reference: Tu Wei-Ming, " A Confucian Perspective on Learning to be Human", Confucian Thought: Selfhood as Creative Transformation, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985, p. 67-80.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Daguerreotype

Fig. 1 Two girls looking at a picture book 1850-55

Fig. 2 Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, 1844

Last semester Ryan Johnston gave a lecture about the history of photography for the subject Modern Art - the politics of the new. It was really interesting to hear about the development of photography over the 19th and 20th centuries.

Ryan indicated that photography is essentially a modern art form. From the Renaissance artists have used the camera obscura and photography was invented simultaneously in many countries in the 1800 – 1820s. (Johnston 2009)

In 1839 Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851) (Fig. 2) presented his invention of an early type of photography which he named the daguerreotype to the French Academy of Sciences. It was a method that used a large box camera, to expose an image to a silver plated sheet of copper that had been treated with iodine. It was then developed with mercury and fixed with salt. Only one copy was produced and this was a very fragile method. (Met Museum of Art, Online)

The Metropolitan Museum of Arts website has a section devoted to their exhibition titled ‘The Dawn of Photography: French Daguerreotypes, 1839–1855’. You can view images from the exhibition as well as a computer animation of the daguerreotype process. Viewing the images evoked the sense of travelling back in time to see people and places that no longer exist. This is part of the magic of photography.

I chose to decorate my blog page with an image from this exhibition (Two girls looking at a picture book 1850-55) (Fig. 1) because I like the look of this method of photography. I like the image of children reading a picture book. Its astounding how far media has advanced since this period.


Fig.1. Unknown artist
Two Girls Looking at a Picture Book, ca. 1850-55
Daguerreotype; 19.1 x 15.2 cm (7 1/2 x 6 in.)
Département des Estampes et de la Photographie, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris

The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Fig. 2. Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot (French, 1801-1881)
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, 1844
Daguerreotype; 14.3 x 11.7 cm (5 5/8 x 4 5/8 in.)
George Eastman House, Rochester

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Website. Available from:

Johnston, Ryan, “Photography and Modernism” Lecture, University of Melbourne. Parkville. 26 March 2009.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Myer | Fashion | Youth | Video Spotlight

Myer | Fashion | Youth | Video Spotlight

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Street Semiotics

I was led to the Myer website today through photographing a billboard on the Myer Bourke street store. The ad contained text inviting you to ”view the behind the scenes action and our exclusive designer interviews at”.

I was impressed with the 'Myer Youth Behind the scenes’ clips. There are three different clips the viewer can choose from. The website is really well designed; you can link up with other Myer catalogues and there is an option to share the clips on 54 different social networking and email sites. The clips are on ‘youtube’ as well.

The Myer Youth Catalogue rocks! It’s the first multimedia advertisement I’ve seen that uses high speed time lapse film to show artists spray painting graffiti in an alley. Its visually interesting because it uses lots of colour and you see how the artists build an image with paint.

There is also a scene showing two artists decorating a corner of the lane with various materials. The effect is of a strange art installation room. The advertisement uses pop music, models and artists to show how they transformed a Melbourne laneway for a fashion shoot.

At the end of each clip an ‘A’ is painted over the letter ‘e’ in the Myer logo and a cross has been added at the end of the word that looks like a ‘t’. Glimpsed quickly the A made me think of the Anarchy symbol but upon reflection I realized the word ‘Myer’ was changed to ‘My art’.

The connotative meaning is Myer Youth fashion is edgy, fun and expressive. Its in touch with youth culture through the use of graffiti and music. The models are shown running around the lane having fun like young people do. There is a high energy feel to the clip and an element of playfulness and cheekiness. It contains themes of rebellion, creativity and postmodern art.

Changing the word ‘Myer’ has the effect of a visual puzzle or trick. It takes the use of the semiotic codes to a higher level through changing relationships in the same word. Because it is the brand name this has the effect of reinforcing the brand and deeper associations of Myer with high art, adaptability and progress (Modernity).

Walpurgis Night

Walpurgisnacht by Johann Heinrich Ramberg 1829

Walpurgis Night is the title of a chapter in Faust, part one by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832. It describes a pagan festival taking place on the Harz Mountains in Germany at night. Witches, Warlocks, Lilith, Mephistopheles (the devil) and Faust attend.

FAUST. How the gale rages through the air!

How furiously it lashes at my head!

MEPHISTOPHELES. It will lash you right off the precipice;

take care!

Grab those old ribs of rock, or you’ll be dead.

A mist thickens the night.

Hear the storm in the wood! The owls

Are startled into flight.

Hear now, in those ever-green halls,

The columns crack, the boughs moan

As they split! On every side

The mighty tree-trunks groan!

Their roots creak, gaping wide!

In fearful chaos they all

Crash together as they fall,

And through the half-choked clefts of this

Their ruin, the winds howl and hiss.

Do you hear voices in the sky?

Far away? And nearby?

Yes! There it rages, up and along

The whole mountain, a torrent of witching song!

WITCHES [in chorus] . Where have the Brocken witches


Stubble is yellow, young corn is green.

Now we meet again, and up we ride!

Lord Capercailzie will preside.

So come away let’s make a start!

A goat can stink, a witch can fart!

Goethe (1808, p.124-125)

The poetry in this passage conjures up the image of the mountain in my imagination. I love the way literature and oral storytelling can do this. Goethe’s story was based on sixteenth century german folktales about a magician named Faust. Its an important literary work because it was written in the late eighteenth century, a time when Europe was in transition from the age of Enlightenment to the age of Romanticism. As a student Goethe was discontent with rationalistic philosophy and was more attracted to pantheism and mystery. He is credited with beginning a new avant garde movement in German literature that became part of European Romanticism.

Walpurgis night was named after Saint Walburga, abbess of Heidenheim monastery (died 779). Her day was made May 1 by the church in efforts to Christianize traditional pagan festivals.

Reference: Goethe, J, Faust, part one, New York: Oxford University Press, 1987, (translated by David Luke).

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Media Watch - The Kyle and Jackie O episode.

‘Media Watch’ Hosts (top from left) Paul Barry, Jonathan Holmes, Richard Ackland, Monica Attard, David Marr, Liz Jackson and Stuart Littlemore; targets and stories included (clockwise) the Cronulla riots, Naomi Robson, Jonathan Shier, Janet Albrechtsen, John Safran, Ray Martin, Shane Paxton, Alan Jones and John Laws. Graphic: Colin Hamilton

I watched an episode of 'Media Watch'(ABC1, Monday 9.20pm) on Monday (3 Aug). The presenter Jonathan Holmes commented on the incident that happened on the Kyle and Jacki O show at radio2day FM in the previous week which involved the presenter's insensitive questions to a fourteen year old girl. He questioned why the ACMA (the regulatory body for radio) rarely investigate breaches of broadcast law.

Holmes also showed a clip from another segment of Kyle and Jacki O's show from last year which involved reuniting a niece(19 yrs old) and her aunt. There was a surprise twist to the show when Kyle threatened to send the niece back to the U.S.A without meeting her aunt. The manager of the show suggested to the niece that she beg Kyle to let her stay. The subsequent film footage of the emotionally distraught women crying and begging Kyle to unite them was displayed live on the stations website. Afterwards the niece indicated she felt cruelly exploited by the shows team.

Holmes implied that this type of broadcasting is tabloid journalism at its worst and that it exploits peoples emotions and dignity to get good ratings. He concluded by stating that with the latest episode of Kyle and Jacki's antics Australian radio has sunk to a new level of grubbiness. It will be interesting to see what results/changes arise from the investigation (if one actually occurs).

Media Watch is a great show because it provides critical comment on current media and exposes inaccuracies and breaches of media regulations and law.There seems to be a problem with the broadcast laws about what constitutes public decency. They are too vague and thats why these kinds of shows are allowed to air. One part that could be made more specific is to protect the rights of children.

Reference: Holmes, J, Media Watch, ABC1, 3 August 2009.
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