Creating Voices

Image result for cioppino

Voice as Culture

In my definition, “Voice as Culture” is the process of harnessing orality in order to transmit cultural identity and customs. Voices are utilized to convey one’s culture to subsequent generations to instruct customs and to broadcast specific traits to other cultures with the means of exposing them to new paradigms. For my piece I have the recipe of the Italian fish stew, cioppino, which is represented by the pictures I included above. I utilized pictures as symbols since the recipe is part of my spoken Italian heritage and cannot be put on paper. Cioppino was first introduced to my family through my first-generation great grandparents who lived in North Beach, the Italian district in San Francisco. The recipe was shared between most at the time, with my family adopting it orally and incorporating it into our family’s culture. From the initial acceptance of the recipe, it has been passed down to successive generations in my family. This oral passing of Italian tradition exemplifies “Voice as Culture” within my experience because my family has applied speech in order to transmit an integral part of our culture through generations. As a result of this oral culture bestowed to me, I am able to prepare a staple food in my culture that has been passed down from my great grandparents. 

The Evolution of Media to Capture Human Emotion

By Arushi, Esther, Ella, Patrick, and Spencer

Clothing Color 

Image result for mourning clothes at funeral
Image result for happy people wearing bright clothes

Clothing color is representative of our mood, making the way we dress a means of communicating our emotions to others. Clothing color being used as an indicator of emotion is a long-standing custom: wearing all black for mourning was adopted by western culture in the early 19th century. Today, although to a lesser degree, we still use the color of our clothing to express how we feel to those around us. Therefore, we project our emotions to others through our wardrobe choices making the color of our clothes a portrayal of our invisible emotions. 

Scents

Febreze, Aerosol Air Freshener, Procter & Gamble 

Smells have the capability to trigger certain emotions through olfactory stimulation. Febreze air fresheners allow individuals to reflect a certain emotion provided a variety of scent options to choose from. Febreze can labels include specific images and denotation that caters to the interest of several groups of individuals in order to attract their attention. For instance, an individual who wishes to convey a cozy environment within their home may choose fluffy vanilla for its promise to fill their home with the familiar and inviting scent of home baked cookies. For all who visit, their attention will be on the coziness and nostalgic familiarity of home baked vanilla cookies. 

Hairstyle

Brittney Spears shaving off hair, 2007, USA

Hair is a reflection of our identity. When people are having a bad hair day they feel as if the whole day has gone down the drain. Hair may be an expression of cultural or individual identity. For woman hair functions as a symbol of feminine seduction and physical attraction. In some cases, individuals feel they have lost control of their life and turn to hair modification so they may feel they have control over some aspect of their life. When an individual decides to shave off their head, it may be an attempt to relieve themselves of negativity and as a symbol of spiritual rebirth. In 2007, Britney Spears was deprived from seeing her children and shaved her head during a breakdown. This spontaneous act may have been an attempt by the Star to gain control over her life after being released from rehab and being deprived from seeing her children.

Protests

Protest Against Inhumane Immigration Laws, Trump Towers, January, 2019

In a system where we are governed by individuals who are meant to represent the will of the people, citizens are responsible for protecting human rights and freedom when at stake. Protesting brings people together from various communities to act together as one voice against injustice. In 2017, trump signed an executive order temporarily barring citizens of seven predominately Muslim nations. Several demonstrators rallied in various locations with signs to voice their stance. Protest signs are a median for individuals to express their emotion towards a specific subject. Demonstrators must think of short yet captivating quotes that effectively get their message across. In the image above, the woman’s choice in denotation reminds the public there is no man-made system capable of labeling an individual as “illegal”, emphasizing that we are all humans with natural born rights. 

Spotify Feels Playlist

Spotify is a digital music streaming service that was released on October 7, 2008. Through licensing agreements, Spotify has compiled a library of millions of songs ranging all genres and styles. They also employ an expert editorial team that creates individualized playlists for every mood or occasion imaginable. This particular playlist, titled “All The Feels”, is a compilation of songs that express depression of sad emotions. Individuals who use Spotify can access this playlist and use the music as an outlet for self expression and emotion.

Emojis

Image result for emoji

Emojis are small, digital icons used to express an idea or an emotion. Emojis originated on Japanese mobile phones in 1997; in 1999, Shigetaka Kurita created the first widely used set of emoticons for NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode mobile internet platform. Emojis reached their worldwide prominence in the early 2010’s after being introduced by many mobile operating systems like Apple and Samsung. Today, smartphone users electronically depict emotions through text message via emojis; thus, emoticons have been adopted as a visible representation of our invisible emotion. 

Animoji

Animojis are customized animated emojis that utilize a user’s own voice and facial expressions. They were first released on the iPhone X, which came out in November 2017. Using the phone’s 3D sensor and front-facing camera, users can create moving and talking versions of their favourite emojis which capture expressions and emotions. This technology allows individuals to create and send messages that convey a greater sense of personality than their static emoji counterparts. iPhone Animojis were originally restricted to just 10 seconds in duration, but they can also be converted into stickers and pasted into messages.

Snapchat

Image result for snapchat happy selfie

Snapchat is one of today’s most popular forms of social media; it is used to depict emotions by allowing users to send pictures of their face to others. Initially released in September 2011, Evan Spiegel, Bobby Murphy, and Reggie Brown created Snapchat with the original intention of introducing a person-to-person photo sharing app. Today, Snapchat is available in 22 languages, marketed mostly to teens around the world. It’s popularity comes from the unique style of communication it offers: users can send selfies and pictures in order to convey their emotions directly to others. 

TikTok 

Image result for tiktok

TikTok is a social media app that consists of shared short videos. Most of the videos are lip-sync videos, and are generally around 10 seconds long. The app has become massively popular, especially amongst children and young adults. The app is by the Chinese developer ByteDance, and is a Westernized version of the Chinese app Douyin. 

Artificial intelligence

Image result for artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is the demonstrated ability of machines to complete difficult tasks that would normally require a human’s intelligence. The concept of artificial intelligence was founded on the idea that human intelligence is not any more unique or precise than a machine can be, and thus can be simulated.

Overview Statement 

The ability to capture the essence of one’s emotion has become progressively easier through time. With each invention therein lies seemingly endless possibilities to tailor them to your personality. Our collection showcases the evolution of media to capture emotion and attention. 

We began with one of the simplest and most commonly used mediums for portraying emotions: clothing. The color and style of your wardrobe has the power to mold your identity and showcase your feelings outwardly. You can also use it to manipulate how much attention you are given; some wear bold fashion pieces to stand out, while others choose to opt for muted colors to blend in. 

Your environment can be manipulated through scent to depict your emotions as well. By using Febreeze, a room can be scented in a certain manner to make you think of home when you are lonely or even to increase happiness; thus, one’s emotion can be conveyed through scent, which can also direct attention towards the space in which it inhabits. Emotions can also be portrayed through the personalization of hair styles. Hair can be cut, dyed, or styled to reflect each person’s individual taste. Similar to clothing, attention can be drawn with bright hair colors and striking styles. Some even go so far as to shave it all off, such as Britney Spears in 2007; she chose to take this drastic measure in a moment of emotional instability, and is considered by many to be her way of taking back control in her life. 

As our collection advanced we included protests, as they are prominent expressions of emotion. Through large crowds, signs, and blaring noises they often attract attention, not only to the protest itself but also to the emotions being displayed. The protest sign that we chose utilizes a strong message, revealing the protester’s emotion at that moment. Our first technological addition to our collection was Spotify, the music streaming application. Spotify is able to entertain and conform to any emotion the user is feeling through music. The playlist ‘All The Feels’ is used to encapsulate any downhearted feelings that the user may be experiencing. Music can direct attention by creating emotions through songs; for example, music can take the listener back to a memory the song reminds them of. Similarly, emojis are used to depict emotions through miniscule images of expressive faces on smart-phone screens. Although seemingly straightforward, emojis are able to convey complex emotions, often through using many at once or by using them at specific moments. Animojis, which are a technologically advanced version of emojis, work as custom emojis that mimic the user’s facial expressions. The use of Animojis can easily illustrate your emotions because it essentially shows an image of your face’s tone and expressions, masked by an emoji.  When emojis and Animojis are used in texts, the messages become more personal and more effective at capturing attention.

Snapchat is the next application in our collection; it is a form of social media for communication through images. Snapchat harnesses emotion by allowing the user to send pictures and videos of themselves and experiences; people often easily express how they are feeling with images of their own faces with different expressions. Tik tok uses videos in a similar manner, although they are more public and given a larger platform. Users are able to express their emotions through short and humorous videos with excessive freedom the application provides. Both apps are extremely easy to use, encouraging more screen time spent on them. This is especially due to their use of artificial intelligence, which is the peak of technological advancement expressed in our collection. The core of Artificial Intelligence is the idea that technology can equate human knowledge and understand and replicate human emotions. For example, voice recognition with Artificial Intelligence is well on its way to grasping differences in tone, pauses, and linguistic structures in the same way that we hear the change of emotions in the people we listen to. 

How We Express Emotion

Emojis

Image result for emoji

Emojis are small, digital icons used to express an idea or an emotion. Emojis originated on Japanese mobile phones in 1997; in 1999, Shigetaka Kurita created the first widely used set of emoticons for NTT DoCoMo’s i-mode mobile internet platform. Emojis reached their worldwide prominence in the early 2010’s after being introduced by many mobile operating systems like Apple and Samsung. Today, smartphone users electronically depict emotions through text message via emojis; thus, emoticons have been adopted as a visible representation of our invisible emotion. 

Clothing Color 

Image result for mourning clothes at funeral
Image result for happy people wearing bright clothes

Clothing color is representative of our mood, making the way we dress a means of communicating our emotions to others. Clothing color being used as an indicator of emotion is a long-standing custom: wearing all black for mourning was adopted by western culture in the early 19th century. Today, although to a lesser degree, we still use the color of our clothing to express how we feel to those around us. Therefore, we project our emotions to others through our wardrobe choices making the color of our clothes a portrayal of our invisible emotions. 

Emojis and clothing color serve as a context for media and attention as they both are visible depictions of invisible emotions. In transforming these objects into technological and physical indicators of emotional states, they are removed from their original context and charged with a new meaning, becoming semiophores. In our technologically dependent society, emojis are a ubiquitous way to reveal our emotions to those we frequently communicate with. Whether you type a blushing face when your heart is warmed, a laughing face when someone cracks a joke, or a single-tear face when you receive bad news, emojis indicate to others what you are currently feeling. Thus, emoticons are transformed in my collection as a perceptible means to express the hidden emotions we feel. Similarly, clothing color is a more subtle way that we disclose our emotions to the world around us. Dark, drab, bold colors such as black or grey suggest that one wishes not to stand out and remain unobtrusive; therefore, they can be indicative of sadness, loneliness, or trouble. On the other hand, warm colors like red, orange, and yellow evoke feelings of happiness and optimism; one who wears these colors may be projecting their own vibrancy and elation. Hence, the colors of our clothing are symbolic of how we feel, giving them a context for my collection. Clothing color is an observable way that we as humans exhibit the emotions we otherwise conceal, relating clothing color to emojis for the purpose of my collection. We utilize clothing color and emojis to articulate our feelings, making them visible portrayals of our invisible emotions and transforming them both into a powerful means of expression. 

Memory Traces

Freud illustrates his depiction of memory traces through the use of an analogy to a wax slab. Similar to memory, the slab “provides not only a receptive surface that can be used over and over again, like a slate, but also permanent traces of what has been written.” Hence, even when erased, the notes leave a slightly visible impression, similar to memory traces, which are learned bits of memory which fade into our subconscious but can be recalled when of use. The concept of traces would be useful for the media collection of Project 2 because the the visible and the invisible deals with our subconscious memory’s ability to connect objects. A tangible, or visible, object can be representative of a larger context, such as Super Bowl LI MVP ring being symbolic of Tom Brady’s dominance and the decade long reign of the New England Patriots. In connecting the visible and the invisible, we subconsciously pull from our collected knowledge in order to draw conclusions about related items. Thus, the use of memory traces would have been quite useful in understanding our correlation to the media practices discussed in Project 2. 

One trace I experience in my everyday life is the faded memory of my AP Chemistry class of junior year in high school. I do not explicitly remember the lessons and concepts taught to me during the class because I did not practice them repeatedly; therefore, they were not completely ingrained in my conscious memory and somewhat lost in translation. However, these traces of AP Chemistry knowledge have resurfaced in my Chemistry 1A course this quarter. In the class we touch on topics I have already learned, allowing my brain to recall information that helps me succeed in the course. Bits and pieces of concepts reemerge from my subliminal memory in order to aid in my comprehension of topics taught to me in class, thereby representing Freud’s depiction of memory traces. 

Freud relates the wax slab and our memory by comparing the “appearance and disappearance of the writing with the flickering-up and passing-away of consciousness in the process of perception.” Thus, one group of objects that relate to schooling and attention and illustrate Freud’s concept is the learning of multiplication and division tables in elementary school. Although we do not constantly use these tables, they are always in the back of our consciousness, ready for recall if necessary. If we need to calculate a tip or use ratios in cooking we can draw upon our collective memory traces, causing the tables to reappear for our benefit. The writing on the wax slab, or the memory of multiplication and division tables, will not always be present but can be extracted when of use to us, thereby illustrating memory traces in the context of Project 3. 

I am curious as to Freud’s thoughts on the persistence of memory and the forgetfulness curve. That is, how long does it take these memories and thoughts to be removed from the Mystic Pad, and what other factors contribute to their removal?

Screens and Their Relation to Society

Technology plays a larger role in today’s society than ever before. We utilize technology to stay in touch with our families, to complete our homework assignments, to watch media, and to become involved with those around us. We are bombarded by a variety of interactive screens and it is usually necessary to use these forms of technology to manage our day.  I have assembled a collection of three screens integral to our society today: the smartphone, the school projector, and the movie theater. These screens serve the purpose of presenting media for entertainment and education, yet all provide a fundamentally different context for viewing. Where, how, and with who we observe this media is distinct for each of these screens, a phenomenon that parallels technological changes in our society today. 

Smartphones – 

The first smartphone, introduced in mass in 1992 by IBM was truly a revolution in technology; an individualized device which could be used to make calls as well as send emails and faxes. However, since then, the technology of smartphones has been improved upon significantly, providing users with a plethora of different abilities that add to their experience. Today, a common use of smartphones is the streaming of movies and televisions on platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, etc. Developed by Apple and mass produced by Hon Hai Precision Industry, iPhones are a prominent device used to stream movies and television shows. The roughly 6×3 inch screen is the perfect size for an individual viewer to watch their desired media wherever and whenever they would like. The portable, accessible nature of the smartphone has contributed to the increase in movie streaming over the past few years as a predominant way to experience films. 

Image result for school projector

School Projectors – 

French physicist Edmond Becquerel created the original overhead projection system in 1853 and it was first advertised in America shortly after as a “vertical lantern.” Since then, the overhead projector has been adapted mostly to the classroom setting, where it is the prevailing technological staple in schools. Companies such as Epson, BenQ, and ViewSonic make the most popular models of projectors, which are usually ceiling mounted devices, around the 1’x1.5’ feet, that project onto a wall or screen. Typically in a 4:3 aspect ratio, the projectors can be used for a variety of tasks, such as casting films or mirroring a computer screen. These school projectors are for the benefit of students, as they broadcast media for an entire classroom to observe, thereby utilizing technology to enhance education. 

Image result for movie theater

Movie Theaters – 

The first, permanent movie theater was Tally’s Electric Theater in California, completed in 1902, which first showed films such as The Great Train Robbery. Today, companies such as AMC, Cinemark, and IMAX dominate the movie theater industry and serve as an extremely popular event for all ages. These theaters externally project onto screens typically ranging from 30-90 feet wide and 10-30 feet tall. The enormous size of these screens makes it possible to completely engulf viewers in the film being presented. The size of the screen in combination with the surround sound and dark environment allow moviegoers to be transported in almost a different reality, making movie theaters the most thrilling way to experience cinema.

The smartphone, school projector, and movie screen are all used to display media in their own, specialized environment. Pomian, in his work Collectors and Curiosities, describes a collection as a “set of natural objects…afforded special protection in enclosed places adapted specifically for that purpose and put on display.” Whether it be at school, in a theater, or in your own hands, these devices are put on display in their respective areas and used to entertain and inform us. These screens capture our attention through the electronic media they present; movies, television shows, presentations, etc., are all featured on these devices with the goal of amusing and teaching viewers. Vivid imagery from a film or an engaging, interactive presentation seize and maintain our attention, using the screens as a medium to do so. Therefore, the media remains a context for my collection because these objects are used to communicate the media they present to their audience. Without intriguing information, the items in my collection are just screens; however, the introduction of powerful media transforms them into an accessible means of educating and inspiring their viewers.

The three objects comprising my collection form relationships with their viewers, an essential component of screen practice, by utilizing media to entertain and instruct. Screen practice rose to prominence in the mid 1900s when observers viewed the extremely life-like images projected to them as life itself. Charles Musser describes, in The Emergence of Cinema, that before the installation of screen practice onlookers saw projected images as magic and almost fictitious. However, with the demystification of these images, spectators began to observe the images as art, signifying the dawn of screen practice. This unveiling set up a relationship with the producer, the images themselves, and the audience which has remained unchanged ever since and is fundamental to screen practice because it establishes a connection between all parties involved. This imperative connection between technology and user is achieved by the items in my collection through a variety of ways.

Movie theaters are exemplary of the original “magic” of the screen; their use of powerful speakers, an engulfing, high-definition picture, and surrounding ambiance all work to enrapture its audience and almost remove them from reality. By immersing the viewers, the movie theater sets up an external connection between screen and observer, thereby representing a core element of screen practice. Similarly, smartphones provide an external connection because we constantly have phones on our person. Smartphones are integral for navigating everyday life so we must carry them with us consistently. This dependence on our phones establishes the connection which Musser elaborates upon in his depiction of screen practice.

On the contrary, school projectors establish an internal connection with observers through the media they present. Instructional films or presentations provide students with valuable lessons that accompany them for the rest of their lives. In fact, the projector serves as a direct conduit between teacher and student as it is utilized to relay the instructor’s knowledge to their pupils, illustrating the relationship screen practice aims to create through media. 

All three of the technological objects in my collection are intrinsically similar as they intend to present media as entertainment to their users. Both the movie theater and school projector use an external source of projection to display images whereas the smartphone utilizes internal projectors to arrange pixels on the screen. This being said, the three items all project images and media used to instruct and/or entertain their observers, thereby exemplifying screen practice. Screen practice itself is the display of images on a screen, typically accompanied by music, voice, and sound effects, according to Charles Musser. Musser asserts that “screen practice always has a technological component, a repertoire of representation strategies and a cultural function,” all of which flux and adapt over time. A shift in the cultural view of these projected images was indicative of the beginning of screen practice.

Shifts in culture also describe how the objects in my collection have been transformed in their assemblage: they are indicative of technology’s impact on our culture today. The personalized and portable nature of the smartphone has led to its predominance and implies a singular way of viewing. The small screen size makes it so only an individual can view, which has led to the independent, closed off, and largely distracted nature of our society.  Movie screens, on the other hand, suggest a more communal means of viewing due to their larger screens, allowing a group of people to come together and share a common experience. We always have our phones and take for granted the technology we hold at our fingertips; however, going to the movies still remains a special event. Friends and family attend the movies to observe images being projected together, making an occasion out of it and preserving the “magic” of the screen. Today, this form of screen still functions as an outlet for social gatherings, preserving the notion of community that is slowly being lost due to the advancement of screen practice. However, movie theaters are becoming antiquated as phones now can stream movies and television shows, images that were once unique to televisions. Phones and the enhancement of their abilities are thereby emblematic of the individualization we are experiencing as a society due to technology.

On a more positive note, school projectors are representative of the great educational benefits which an augmentation of technology has brought to our society. Whether it be instructional films, student powerpoints, or interactive presentations, school projectors display images to a group of students with the goal of using technological media to inform. Technological advancement contributes both positives and negatives to our society, a phenomenon that my collection of screens represents. 

There are many other screens prevalent in our world today that could potentially be added to the collection. Tablets, laptops, and televisions are all related to my assemblage of media because they are all capable of relaying information to viewers for their enjoyment and education. These items provide unique contexts of presenting media to viewers unlike the other objects in the collection. Smart televisions today can display a variety of pictures, ranging from your typical movies and television shows to interactive games and web searches. The television, however, is oriented to the family because it typically resides in a living-room, implying it is meant for a family or group of people to gather around and experience media in common. In observing television as a family, bonds are strengthened since everyone spends quality time revelling in and talking about their shared experience. The television’s ability to bring together and bond a group of people indicates a very special context for viewing media and is a somewhat magical quality of the screen.

On the contrary, laptops and tablets imply a more individual form of observing screens. Although they are large enough for two or three people to watch, laptops and tablets were created with the purpose of increasing the portability of the standard computer for a single person. Similar to the smartphone, these devices are easily stored and transported, allowing the user to view media wherever they desire. They too are indicative of the increasingly individualistic nature of society and therefore would accomodate my collection’s relation to the changing world around us. 

Visible and Invisible Assemblages

  1. According to Pomian, a collection entails a “set of natural objects, kept temporarily or permanently out of the economic circuit, afforded special protection in enclosed places adapted specifically for that purpose and put on display.” Objects in a collection are often exhibited, leading their practical value to be diminished and their exchange or personal value to be heightened. The exchange and personal value of objects in a collection are helpful in describing the relationship between the visible and the invisible and Pomian’s definition of a collection. The objects serve as a conduit between the visible and invisible worlds; this involvement in an exchange process relates the items and gives them similarity. A perfect example of this are historical paintings. These paintings are tangible objects that depict scenes of the past, or the invisible world. However, their portrayal of the invisible world enables a channel of communication between the invisible and visible by showing present-day viewers a scene of the distant past and connecting them to the painting. The relationship between the visible and invisible increases the exchange and personal values of the painting, which means the object is suitable for being part of a collection, according to Pomian.
  2. A Wunderkammer, as told by Eco, was a cabinet that sought to “systematically collect all the things that ought to be known,” whether it be bizarre and obscure items or plain yet instructory objects. These impressive collections of items can be used to symbolize the dream of science, which aims to understand everything in the world and their basic processes. The Wunderkammer can be seen as a representation of the human potential to amass knowledge about the natural and artificial world and use it to our benefit. The items were once considered to possess magical qualities unknown to human understanding, but through collection and observation they are comprehensible by humans. 
  3. One distinction between Pomian’s collection and Eco’s Wunderkammer is the usefulness of the objects. According to Pomian, a collection consists of “precious objects’ ‘ that have “no practical or usage value” meaning their sole purpose is to be put on display and enamored as part of the collection. The sole aim of a collection is to be rendered presentable and admirable; therefore, once items become part of a collection, they become ineffective. On the contrary, items in the Wunderkammer can include “musical and mathematical instruments, experimental projects on perpetual motion,” items which can be studied and learned from in order to gain practical knowledge. The Wunderkammer possesses objects which have practical value, in comparison to those in Pomain’s collection which become useless. In fact, the goal of the magical cabinet was to amass objects that signify scientific knowledge and the ability to learn about the things around us. 

Reading Pomian’s description of what he believes constitutes a collection, I wonder how accurate/universal his criteria are. For example, someone can have a car collection but those cars can still be of practical use if they drive them regularly. According to Pomian this is not a collection…or is it?

Screen Practice

  1. In its most simplified form, screen practice is the display of images on a screen, typically accompanied by music, voice, and sound effects, according to Chalres Musser. Screen practice rose to prominence in the mid 1900s when observers viewed the extremely life-like images projected to them as life itself. Musser asserts that “screen practice always has a technological component, a repertoire of representation strategies and a cultural function,” all of with flux and adapt over time. A shift in the cultural view of these projected images was indicative of the beginning of screen practice. Before, onlookers saw these images as magic and almost fictitious. However, with the demystification of these images, spectators began to observe the images as art, signifying the start of screen practice. This unveiling set up a relationship with the producer, the images themselves, and the audience which has remained unchanged ever since and is fundamental to screen practice because it establishes a connection between all parties involved. 
  2. The most basic and prevalent “screen” in today’s scoiety would be the smartphone, which internally projects images in the form of pixels from behind its screen. Similar to the phone is the modern smart television, which also internally projects images onto its larger screen through the use of pixels. In contrast, the movie theater is a screen with an external projector that displays images on a very large surface for many to observe. We observe these three types of screens in different ways and the context with which we view them in is different as well (see third response).
  3. The personalized and portable nature of the smartphone has led to its predominance and implies a singular way of viewing. The small screen size makes it so only an individual can view, which has led to the independent, closed off, and largely distracted nature of our society.  Televisions, on the other hand, imply a more communal means of viewing. Due to their larger screens, televisions allow a group of people to come together and share a common experience. The act of coming together and sharing a movie or television show helps preserve the notion of community that is slowly being lost due to the advancement of screen practice. However, televisions are even becoming antiquated as phones now can stream movies and television shows, images that were once unique to televisions. Phones and the enhancement of their abilities are thereby leading to the overall individualization we are experiencing as a society. In contrast, movie theatres are working to hold a notion of community together, making this form of screen practice fundamentally different from the other two in today’s world. We always have our phones and take for granted the technology we hold at our fingertips; however, going to the movies still remains a special event. Friends and family gather and go out to the movies to observe images being projected in common, making an occasion out of it and preserving the “magic” of the screen. Today, this form of screen still functions as an outlet for social gatherings and sharing great experiences together. In all, our society’s reliance on screens makes it hard to escape screen practice. No matter where we go, we are bombarded by a variety of interactive screens and it is usually necessary for us to use these forms of technology in order to go through our day. This constant barrage of screens has unfortunately taken the magic out of the screen itself as we view it as so commonplace. 

In reading about Musser’s ideas on screen practice, I was still unsure what he meant about the “cultural influence” that is exerted on screen practice. I wonder what this entails and how it impacts screen practice as a whole because it did not go too in depth in his book. 

Techniques of the Observer

  1. The thaumatrope and flipbook are two similar optical devices in that they both rely on the sluggishness of the eye, the fusing of successive images, and the hands of the observer, themes illustrated by Crary in Techniques of the Observer. The thaumatrope is a disc with a drawing on either side, and, when spun, the images mold together because of the persistence of our vision.  According to Crary, the first picture persists “about the eighth part of a second after the image is removed…and the consequence is that you see both sides at once.” The afterimage is also integral to the function of the flipbook. The flipbook is a series of slightly varied pictures that appear to be animated when flipped through rapidly because the sluggishness of the eye fusees the images together. This blending of images tricks our mind into seeing motion through a series of still photographs. Another parallel between the two is the observer’s ability to dictate their experience of the illusion using their hands. Depending on how fast or slow the viewer rifles through the flipbook or turns the thaumatrope, they will encounter a different experience. The faster the viewer’s hands, the less time they have to cognize the images and thus the more continuous the images appear, or vice versa. Therefore, the two optical devices are unique as a result of the power of the observer to govern their own experience. 
  2. Although these devices can be used by anyone, in my opinion I believe they are geared more towards children because of the images they display. The colorful, geometric shapes of the kaleidoscope and the trivial, silly images on the zoetrope seem to infer that they are tailored for a youthful audience. In addition, because they are not fully developed, children may not comprehend the illusions and thus would be more enamored by the objects. Because of the childlike nature of the objects, the context for viewing appears to be in a living/play room setting, where kids play with their toys and have fun. In addition, I believe that the objects are more of a solitary ordeal because the individual observer dictates how they wish to experience the objects using their own hands. 
  3. Crary’s assertion that “the retinal afterimage is perhaps the most important optical phenomenon” is upheld by the objects which all rely on the afterimage to convey their illusion. In most of the objects, the presented image lingers because of our lethargic eyes. In doing so, the first image partially sinks into our consciousness but begins to blend with the successive picture due to the lasting afterimage of the first image. For example, the thaumatrope is a disc with different pictures on each side, images which blend into one when the disc is spun as a result of the persistence of vision. This fusing of images is a similarity between the objects that allow the observer to experience a false sense of motion and a blending of retinal pictures. The illusion of the objects is also furthered by binocular disparity, which Crary describes as “the self-evident fact that each eye sees a slightly different image.” Humans have the ability to synthesize the two opposite retinal pictures and blend them into one, furthering the tricks that the devices play on our eyes by reconciling the disparity and creating unity in the images presented by the objects. 

The reading led me to wonder in what discipline these studies were based: Were they psychologically based to understand more about the human senses, or did they come from a film/media perspective that sought to understand these tricks in order to entertain humans and advance media?

Focusing on What REALLY Matters

Information overload, infobesity, infoxication, etc., are all aptly termed words that describe a preeminent issue in today’s society. The overwhelming amount of information presented to us has led to an undeniable problem. Technology’s expanding role in our world has facilitated this issue by producing larger quantities of information, easing circulation, and reaching a vast audience. Consuming extensive amounts of news has led us astray; it is harder than ever to formulate decisions because our brains are overworked from trying to process so much information. Therefore, pairing down the amount of data that bombards us and attending to the pertinent ideas is a skill necessary for members of our society. 

Extracting useful information helps us formulate opinions and learn relevant material, traits which prompt academic success. Discovering tools that shape our focus in unique, beneficial ways is necessary for us to capitalize on our education. My notes, my weekly planner, and online learning sites mold my attention in order to better prepare me for school. However, the benefits provided by these artifacts reaches far beyond the breadth of education. As Mike Rose posits in his book, Why School, shaping my attention on relevant information is helping me “develop a sense of myself as knowledgeable and capable of using what I know.”

Planners: The Key to Organizing Time

In my experience, at the foundation of filtering information comes organization, a skill we as students often overlook but is crucial for us to take advantage of our education. As a result of the fast paced nature of college in the quarter system, I find it integral that I govern my time and work efficiently. A weekly planner allows me to take command of my schedule, focusing my efforts on what I need to accomplish during the week. 

As evident from my planner, I encounter a lot of information in my classes, leading to a hectic schedule with many assignments, deadlines, difficult tests and accompanying studying. Although these all cause stress in a student’s life, the common denominator of issues is being overwhelmed by information. Utilizing a planner enables me to stay on track with individual assignments and not get lost in thinking about everything as a whole. Instead of stressing over the magnitude of tasks at hand, planning ahead directs my energy at the most important things. Mike Rose maintains focusing our attention as crucial because it puts our efforts “to use in substantial and meaningful ways so that they become more powerful.” Directing our time towards relevant activities makes goals all the more attainable because we can formulate coherent plans which specifically address how we need to accomplish those tasks. Planning your course of action additionally serves as a way to evaluate your progress towards a certain goal by illustrating whether or not you are staying on schedule. 

However, being so regulated does not always lend itself to be useful. If you are constantly enforced by a set plan, unexpected obstacles can cause a great deal of stress. Obstacles, however minor, can throw off your daily and weekly routines, threatening the achievement of your goals. Curveballs such as unexplained sickness or uncompromising fatigue (both of which I am currently attempting to deal with) can cause you to lose sight of specific goals and become overwhelmed by all there is to do. Strict planning can thus neglect room for error, a common human reality which can be overcome on the path to attaining our goals. In fact, Rose claims that dealing with mistakes and stressors proved to him that he “could figure things out and act on what I learned.” This unanticipated benefit is left out by rigorous planning, a downside to a highly-regulated schedule. However, planning as a whole is necessary to combat becoming engulfed by everything on your plate, allowing you to focus solely on the components essential to success. 

The Value of Note-Taking

Note-taking is another aspect of our education that I believe is sometimes taken for granted, but helps me attend to my academic and intellectual growth. During lectures, professors inundate us with information, some of which is unnecessary and distracts us from what we actually need to know. How we as students collect and retain the information provided to us is therefore an integral part of our learning and can augment our confidence and competence. To support this claim of mine I come again to Mike Rose, who states that “acquiring and using knowledge brings its own pleasures. It just feels good to know things and use what you know.” The more useful information we amass, the more informed we feel and therefore the better our ability to deal with what is occurring around us. How I achieve this sense: my notes.

I begin my procedure by typing a word-for-word transcript of lectures every day, ensuring I have all the raw information provided by my professor, no matter the relevance. After class, I go through the accumulated information, tangents and all, copying down the important pieces in a concise, organized manner. 

Although my personal method of notetaking seems unconventional, the process allows me to better absorb information, strengthening my comprehension of the topics taught to me in class. Furthermore, Re-writing my notes facilitates the memorization process and allows me to siphon out insignificant material, leading to better overall retention of the pertinent topics presented in lectures. Rose also sees learning to “search for and synthesize” information crucial to our development. Note-taking in class can be a somewhat absent-minded procedure, but recopying notes applies semantics because you can extract the information that resonates with you. Remembering and giving meaning to these facts better organizes your thoughts by attending to only the paramount information. 

The consolidation of material also has its drawbacks. Since you are deciding for yourself what information is meaningful, it is easy to omit information if you do not initially see it to be relevant. My note-taking process is also a time burden which increases the possibility of transcription error as I often get tired and overlook details. In addition, this means of focusing attention on valuable information is not as widely applicable as a result of its unorthodox and time-consuming nature. I do not personally know of many people who would willingly engage in this seemingly redundant process in order to better filter and retain information. However, I find notetaking to be the best way of shaping my attention and it has proved to bring about academic success.

Applying Knowledge Through ALEKS

The selective information we collect in school that I have spoken so much about is fruitless unless we implement it and use it to our advantage. The knowledge we possess can be ephemeral; we must practice and apply this information in order to fully commit it to memory. Our technologically progressive society has many online educational resources that help us solidify the information we learn and view it in a broader context. ALEKS, an adaptive online homework site I use for Chemistry 1A, not only helps cement the material I learn in class, but gears my focus towards the topics I have difficulty with. Through formative assessments and knowledge checks, ALEKS is able to identify the topics I struggle in and presents questions which allow me to attend to and learn what I do not already know. ALEKS offers immediate feedback, helping me to recognize my strengths and weaknesses, providing me with an individualized study plan to reinforce my knowledge. 

Thus, ALEKS focuses my study time on the most beneficial information for me to succeed in chemistry, preventing me from becoming overwhelmed. Through concentrating my efforts I save time and energy, applying my knowledge on what is truly important, a skill Mike Rose holds as imperative. Rose emphasizes “the principles of implementation” to be “an ethics of practice, a right and wrong way to do things.” Determining how to apply the information we collect is a critical skill in school; we frequently need to recall information for tests or class discussions in order to succeed. However, applications of the knowledge we learn extend far beyond education. In a world filled with colossal amounts of information, it is vital that we can employ our own experiences to our benefit. Rose also finds it necessary to apply our education in a broader context in order to make decisions, formulate arguments and opinions, and advocate for ourselves. Therefore, discovering tools that shape our attention to what is meaningful is a skill we ascertain in school but take with us for the rest of our lives. 

Organizing and Applying Ideas

According to Mike Rose, education helped “develop a sense of myself as knowledgeable and capable of using what I know.” How we as students collect and retain the information provided to us can augment our confidence and competence; therefore,  the way we take notes is an integral part of our learning. Although my personal method of notetaking seems unconventional and gratuitous, the process allows me to better absorb information, furthering my comprehension of the topics taught to me in class.

My un-edited notes taken during class
My consolidated notes , written after my lecture

I begin my procedure by typing a word-for-word transcript of lectures every day, ensuring I have all the raw information provided by my professor, no matter the relevance. After class, I go through the accumulated information, tangents and all, copying down the important pieces in a concise, organized manner. Re-writing my notes facilitates the memorization process, leading to better overall retention of lectures and topics presented within them. This process, however redundant it seems, is essential as it allows me to focus my attention on the pertinent material, something Rose also sees as crucial to our learning and development. Learning to “search for and synthesize information” provides one “with the means to probe the world and to push back on other’s interpretation of it.” The ability to take jumbled information and extract the most meaningful fragments develops this skill which Rose speaks of, a skill allowing me to better organize my thoughts and attend to only the paramount information. Having proficiency in consolidating and synthesizing information lends itself to be useful both in and out of the classroom. Being capable of extricating specific truths is a skill especially useful in today’s climate as we cannot believe much of the information presented to us. Having this set of tools enables individual prosperity because, as Rose maintains, it “feels good to know things and use what you know.”