#creativact – My Presentation

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/39046998]

Here is my presentation which showcases all my work through the ‘Creative Activism’ course.

For more information on my thoughts of how this module has gone, please view my ‘closing thoughts’ post.

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#creativact – The Work of My Peers (For Assessment)

Throughout the Creative Activism course, the group has been hard at work at various different media objects to take a stand or to make an impact in the world. Here are some of my favorites and why.

For James Root’s empathy documentary, he decided to take on the challenge of having no communication for 24 hours. What I like about this piece is that he self reflects on himself. He finds out that his days are “un-constructive” and that he talks a lot of “shit”. He also reminds himself of how life was without simple communication tools such as Facebook and Twitter. He uses a mixture of a webcam style video, but adds in lots of other shots and cuts which emphasise the point he is trying to make. That is something that I didn’t do enough of in my documentary and I applaud James for that. People do tend to enjoy the webcam style videos, and you only have to look at some of the top subscribers on Youtube to find that these types of video lead the way. James documentary would fit well in that category. On the empathy side of things, obviously, there are people in the world who can’t communicate in these way. Some people are deaf, blind, don’t have the Internet/phones or have no voice and with James putting himself in there shoes, he is able to grasp what the reality is like for those people. He get’s that point across well in the video. Out of all the documentaries produced, it is my favorite.

Week 1’s challenge was one of my favorite’s to complete and to look at other people’s ideas. The image above, by Sarah Wildash stood out for me. The image is very thought provoking and can mean a number of things which is what the aim of the task was to do. Firstly, it’s the simplicity that stands out. It’s a girl, with a plaster over her mouth which immediately signals to me that this image is about women being made to kept quiet. Then as you see the red splatter that indicates blood in my first thought. Then as you try and link both thoughts, you get a new thought of perhaps domestic abuse. I really like how innocent the girl looks, then with the plaster over the top it gives the real impact.

Emma’s documentary took on a subject very close to my heart. She decided to be bed-bound for 24 hours. This had an impact on me because my family is going through the same process with my granddad who, due to illness has been in bed for just under a year now. Lot’s of people in the world are in the exact same position, so this documentary could have impact on all those people as well. Although not filmed brilliantly, she gets the point across really well. It does make you think what you would do if you couldn’t visit your favorite places again. It’s a strange feeling and one I have put myself in numerous times as I think about my once ‘ever so active Grandad.

The final piece that I enjoyed is Helena’s provoking image piece. What strikes me about this image is that how simple it is. The empty bottles inspire an alcohol culture and the mascot in the background show’s to be drunk and collapsed on the floor which provokes my thoughts. By using the mascot, it makes me feel that the image is trying to talk about the young drinking culture. The mascot immediately signals a sign of children. The image itself is produced well which make’s it stand out even more.

Overall, I think everyone can be pleased with the work, time and effort they have put in by making these artefacts. Although they may not make a massive impact in the world, they have certainly made impact in the local environment and especially with me.

#creativact – Creating an Impact

So for the creating impact challenge for week 6, I’ve decided to hit 2 birds with 1 stone and use the teaser trailer for an upcoming film I am working on. I have the role of DOP and PR so by using this, I’m getting the trailer to as many people as possible. Were trying to make these pieces of media make some king of impact in the world, and the key is to distribute it in a way that will get the work notice.

[vimeo https://vimeo.com/38696831]

So for this to make some kind of impact, I need to utilise every part of the media to it’s potential. My first stops were Twitter and Facebook. My tweet held a tag of #StephenKing. That # tag get’s included in over 5000 posts per day so there is plenty of scope for this post to be viewed. So far, I have received 3 retweets and a couple of new followers interested in the film.

Then I decided to post it on a few websites that I am a member of. Crossfire.nu is primarily a gaming community, but there are many film fans and members are worldwide so it will gain more attention then just in the UK.

Another site that get’s lots of viewers is Reddit. Often called “the homepage of the Internet”. With over 1million unique hits per day, and over 750,000 subscribers to both the film and video sub-sections, the trailer has massive potential of being viewed by all types of people. I still have to wait for the post to be approved.

So far, after only 2 full days online, the video has been viewed 74 times which is great and there is plenty more room to get this seen in many more places. I could look at some of the big movie forums on the web, get a listing on IMDB or even speak to film related websites to see if they will run a story on the project.

In my opinion, this video will never go viral. It  may get some attention which would be great, but what I find with most viral videos is that they either funny or have a shock factor. Take these 2 for examples;

 

Our teaser trailer has neither. I don’t think you purposely make a viral video either, it just tends to happen. I also didn’t choose to do my own video to make a stand against something because I’m slowly getting bored with those types of videos. Everyday on youtube, you see these people talking to their webcams about problems in the world without them doing a great deal about it. I don’t see them making a massive about of difference in the long or short term. Even other mediums such a student protests made no difference what-so-ever. For change to happen, you have to look at the hierarchy. If they want something changing, they will do it. If they don’t, they won’t. And if people kick up a fuss, they still won’t change.

#creativact – Analysing the KONY 2012 campaign (For Assessment)

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y4MnpzG5Sqc]

Over the past few weeks, a video from the group ‘Invisible Childeren’ titled KONY 2012 has been getting mass attention from both the media and the public. Currently, it’s view count on both Vimeo and Youtube combined racks in at over 80 million has has received so many comments that the option to do so has had to be removed. Media coverage as been widespread with national press around the world such as the BBC, ITV and CNN running stories on the campaign.

But what actually is the campaign? Well it’s a simple call to take action. Make Joseph Kony and his resistance army so famous so that he will be caught. This will in turn end the forced kidnapping of children into his ever growing army, girls forced into sex slavery and people being murdered. The campaign is also linked with the International Criminal Court who are seeking to prosecute Kony for crimes against humanity. By increasing the attention of Kony’s actions, it drum’s up support from the general public in the form of several campaign’s such as ‘Paint the Night’ or by buying the ‘action kit’. Then as it increases further, Invisible children lead you to believe that the U.S government will keep up their support of the campaign by keeping the troops they have stationed in Africa since October 2011 there or by increasing the amount of bodies available. But is that really so? The video does contradict itself in regards to this issue. They openly admit that if the U.S get’s nothing from taking action, then they see it as a non-issue. You only have to look at the likes of the war on terror to see America’s stance on world issues. I don’t think for 1 second that the USA would be involved in the middle east conflicts unless they believed that dictators such as Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin-Laden were involved in the 9/11 attacks. And don’t even get me started on how wealthy these middle east countries could make the US economy via it’s copious amounts of raw materials. I can’t see what America can get from stopping Kony. Ok, they may get a warm round of applause from the International Criminal Court and the public, but it’s doesn’t give them anything in return, and I’m sure they won’t be asking for Africa apparent lack of support in the future.

Jason Russell is the man in control of the ‘documentary’. I don’t personally class it in this genre, I see it more as a motivational speech. His voice is the one you hear throughout the campaign video given his main reasons to stop the LRA from taking anymore children. He attempts to play at the heart-strings of viewers. After all, every campaign needs a “sob-story” and this is no exception. Russell gives us his inspiration for the campaign by introducing us to Jacob Acaye, a local Ugandan boy he met in 2003 who is a survivor of the army attacks but who has seen his family and friends die. By highlighting us Jacob’s wish “to die”, the audience immediately feels aggrieved with his plight. Russell also use his son, Gavin to hit home the point of what Kony is achieving. He uses Gavin in a Q&A session which I find by distressing and insulting. This child is only about 6 years old, and to have him respond to questions such as “What he thinks about Kony?” is condescending. Because the majority of people find this child cute (and he is….) they will take his side of the story. That majority who are watching this video are old enough to have a coherent opinion, so let them have one, don’t brainwash them into thinking what you want them to think. Russell does this throughout the film. He often refers to “we” or “us” making you believe that you are already in this campaign. The statement he makes “If we succeed, we change the course of human history” just bugs the hell out of me. It’s used to give the viewer that sense of belonging, and you can’t really belong to a campaign like this until you know all the facts.

 

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#creativact – Our Flash Mob Reflection (For Assessment)

I have given myself 24 hours before writing this to give myself some time to think about yesterdays ‘activities’ or apparent lack of them. I’ve received numerous messages from the other group all asking the same question “where is your flashmob?” or “what happened at Ikea?”. Well the simple and most convincing answer is, our flashmob never truly existed.

And here’s why.

Certain things happened that we are not supposed to talk about, but screw democracy, I’m going to. It got out of hand. Various members got removed from the store, others got barred and some simply just walked out without any knowledge of what just happened. We never truly imagined the scope of what we were going for in regards to visiting Ikea. It all happened so quickly.

The first group was situated in the bedroom. For some, it’s the most comfortable room in the house, but what that group did made it ever so slightly uncomfortable for both the staff and shoppers. They acted out a generic sex scene (under the bed covers, of course) with a unsuspecting wife coming ‘home’ to find her husband with not 1, but 2 males in bed with her. A very funny scene if you imagine it, even better when you actually saw what happened. I was on the other side of the store at the point this was going on, and it was so loud, I thought there was an actual fight going on. As I walked around to that direction, the general public were asking questions to the staff and each other. Great I thought, this is exactly what we wanted. The reactions of some were priceless, I got some great footage on the handy-cam under my sleeve, I felt like an undercover agent! It’s gone now, but more on that later. Shoppers were turning around, moving in the direction of the noise just to see what was happening. Human’s love to know what is going on around them, it’s a simple fact of life. When there is an argument or a crowd gathers, natural human reaction is to see what is happening. These reactions lead directly to what we learnt from Guy Debord’s theory on psychogeography. In such an enclosed space with access to the whole floor, it wasn’t too much of a surprise to see them moving towards the disturbance.

My group was situated in the bathroom. Often the room of solitude. A place to ‘relieve’ yourself, clean yourself and for others a silent room to gather your thoughts. Now, this is where the flashmob got interesting for me, and we can take a lot from what happened in this ‘place’. We had already gone through what we were going to do in the bathroom scene. It was simple, somebody was going to sit on the toilet reading the paper and the other person was going to take a shower. The problem we had was that the bathroom we wanted to use was ‘in-use’ by the public and store staff members. That was until the ‘bedroom’ scene took place. As I said before, people tailed off into that area to see what was happening, and this gave us the opportunity to strike. The 2 guys went for it, they got naked and acted in there scenes. It was very funny and on the other hand distressing, particular for me; the one with the camera. One of the lads sang a fantastic rendition of Boys 2 Men’s hit “I’ll Make Love To You”. It was like a new extreme version of X Factor. Get in the shower, and sing the chorus of a song before the security can catch you. I heard more movements through the Swedish store, including those generic security walky-talkie noises you always hear. It was time to depart, I left quickly as to not be noticed with the camera, and I left the “naturists” to it. I never saw them again; until back at Uni, with at their disposal, the exclusions and permanent banning notices they were handed for anti-social behaviour!

A bit over the top? Yeah, I think so, but that’s what making a point is all about, especially using comedy. You never seen a comedian just sitting there trying to make a point, they are always moving around, using expressions and changing the pitch and tone of their voice. Lee Evans is the master of it, and he get’s his point across well, I never get sick of hearing people re-enacting his jokes. Now, onto the “naked” part of flashmob. For us to completely do these scenes properly, a but of nudity was needed. Thinking about it in more detail, was it the place for nudity? Probably not, there was small children about, and perhaps others wouldn’t of found it the same way we did. But I suppose that’s what being an activist is about, and in life you are suspect to thing’s happening that you don’t have no control over. Western culture is full of nudity, in print, tv and on the Internet. You can’t tell me that these children or others have not seen some kind of body part in their lives. It’s absurd. If this kind of thing was done in the 60’s nobody would blink an eyelid. If you look at extracts from the book “The 60s Communes” by Timothy Miller (1999) you can see that this was the norm in the apparent hippy culture. It says “In many communities nudity was practically order of the day”. But I suppose we wouldn’t have a swinging 60s version selling awful flatpack furniture for us to stroll around with our bits out.

I think we rushed the whole flash mob experience too much. 6 hours is not enough to create a spectacle that is worthwhile. After reviewing the footage, that was apparent; and after the senior lecturers gave us a word of warning, the footage is now a distant memory sitting in a trashcan on a iMac. We we right to delete the footage? I don’t think so, even if we just showed the reaction footage that I got, we could of made something really nice out of it. It would lead to that suspense and a few questions. “Why are these people running towards the noise?”, “What did they find?”. The truth is, they found nothing. Did it make an impact? Well It made an impression rather then an impact and now I have to live with those visions of naked bum cheeks firmly etched into my mind, along with the rest of the days ‘activities’.

#creativact – Developing our Flashmob (For Assessment)

This week’s task is to complete a flash mob. This is the task I have been waiting for! First thing’s first, what actually is a flashmob? Here’s a short description;

A flash mob  is a group of people who assemble suddenly in a public place, perform an unusual and seemingly pointless act for a brief time, then disperse, often for the purposes of entertainment, satire, and artistic expression. (Wikipedia)

Throughout this morning we have been learning the background behind flash mobs and their existence. Guy Debord came up with the term ‘psychogeography’ which links with flash mobs. Here is a definition;

The study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals

To put it simply, it’s the study of how people react and the emotions that they feel in certain places or when certain things are happening. This links with flash mobs as they happen in lots of random places where people don’t expect it so it’s the study of how those people respond. Take the following for example;

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jwMj3PJDxuo]

With this flashmob, we can see that the general public are unaware of what’s about to happen and what is happening around them. Some are confused, some people are laughing and others are just shocked. I like how the worker on the buggy reacts, although I think his voice has been dubbed over the top of the audio.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB3NPNM4xgo]

This flash mob from T-Mobile is also great at looking at reactions. Most of the people featured in this video are coming back from a trip and the last thing they will expecting is them to be involved in a song and dance. Some people get involved, laugh and others are just completely confused!

So, yesterday evening, I started to think of different ideas for flashmobs that we could set up in a day. I thought of 2 main ideas. The first was a giant human snake. We would all be in different parts of town, and as the snake came towards you, you would just latch on the end of the snak unsuspectingly as if it was like a magnet. My 2nd idea was to include some famous music and go around as a carnival. I got the idea from the following video;

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFHjLtGq7Gw&feature=related]

To me, the Mario music is iconic, but the only problem I thought of with this was, were we able to get a group of musicians quickly who knew how to play the tunes. I doubt it very much,

So during the workshops, we were given our groups and were asked to come up with ideas for flash mobs that we liked. In turns we went through each person’s ideas. Some were similar to previous flash mobs created and some were completely original. The main thing we wanted to do was to gain attention.

We decided to try and develop just 4 ideas that were put to the group. They are;

  • Live choir singing famous theme tunes – Different groups in different areas all joining in with the songs
  • Living in Ikea – 3 groups living in the bathroom, bedroom and kitchen and re-enacting scenes from that specific room.
  • The Human Snake (My original idea also thought of by other group members).
  • The WOW factor – We get in a big huddle and start shouting, oh my god and wow whilst only pointing at a sign saying “Look at this”.
I really enjoyed the Ikea the most. It had something different and it stands out. Ok, it may not be original (Was used in the film 500 Days of Summer) but every scenario that people were thinking of using for the rooms kept making me laugh! However, after a majority vote, the live choir was chosen to be our flashmob. To say I was disappointed was an understatement, but I had to put all my efforts in the new idea for the good of the group.
Now it was time to choose the songs. We had to go for iconic music so that people would respond to them in different ways, and more importantly, they needed to recognise the tune. So after much deliberation, we went with the following;
  • The Pink Panther
  • The Great Escape
  • The Adams Family
  • The Imperial March from Star Wars
  • Harry Potter

Now it was time to practice the songs. There is only 1 word to describe how that went. Shambolic. Nobody could keep the pitch or in time and it was turning out to be a hopeless session. It was nice to see people passionate about the idea, but the execution was hopeless. It was turning out to be a lost cause, and it was quickly recognised that we needed a change of plan desperatly and it was decided that we would revert back to the Ikea idea. So after a few brief chats with the lecturers, they agreed that we should of gone with this idea in the first place anyway.

The idea from then was produced quickly. We got ourselves into 4 teams for 4 different scenarios. The bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. Each room had a camera person who was going to film each scenario as it happens whilst the rest of the group had to act. Each group met up to run through what they were going to do, and then it was decided that all of the groups would act there scenario out in Ikea at 2.45. This would give security in the store a less of a chance to catch everybody in the act at the same time, whilst also making the standard shoppers have different things going on around them. So off we set, ready for our flashmob and blissfully un-aware of what was about to happen….

#creativact – “Fish out of the Net”

This is my completed documentary.

For this, I chose not to use the Internet for 48 hours, starting from 00:01 Wednesday, to 00:00 on Friday.

Looking back at the task itself, I feel it was a well rounded project to take on. Not many people don’t have some kind of access to the internet, so to join the minority was a strange experience.

Personally, it was a massive struggle to go without the Internet for so long. As I highlighted in the documentary itself, I don’t go very long without using the Internet on daily basis so for me it was a challenge. The bog problems arose later in the first day. I found myself needing information from moodle which I couldn’t get access too, so i had to text a friend to log in on my details and get me what I needed. For things like this, it shows how powerful the Internet is.

I could and perhaps should of used other cuts in the piece and backed it up with various facts and figures. It got very repetitive and it was boring just looking at face for 95% of the video. Other cuts of what I was talking about, such as playing football or going to the bank would of split the video up nicely and would of kept the viewers attention. From what I have been told from viewers of the documentary, they got bored easily which I can totally agree with.

If I was to do this again, I would look at many more documentaries to get an idea of what to add in my piece. I only looked at “Super Size Me” and that definitely wasn’t enough to make an accomplished documentary of my own.

#creativact – My Documentary Idea

For this week’s additional task, we were asked to come up with a documentary idea. I have chosen to do a full length documentary for my idea and it is a follow up to my own individual empathy task. Here is mine;

Title: Without a net

Short Overview: A documentary looking at how 3 different people deal with life without access to the Internet.

The big idea: The programme looks at how 3 different peoples lives are affected when they lose complete access to the Internet for 60 days. We will see how they go about their daily routines to see how they cope. They will lose access at home, at work and on the go via their mobile phones/tablet devices. What’s different is how the show focusses on just 3 people. The show will also contain expert analysis on the Internet and it’s future and psychologist studies on the 3 subjects. The main goal is to see whether our lives are now ruled by the web and it’s content.

A synopsis: This documentary will focus on 3 different people when they lose all access to the Internet. Over 60 days, we will follow them through their daily routines to see if they can cope without access to the worlds biggest resource. The documentary will also give facts, figures and analysis from Internet experts and psychiatrists.  It’s key question is to ask, if we coped without the Internet in its current form before 1998, then can we cope without it in the future?

The audience: Technology lovers, users of the web, the older generation to see what the Internet is about.

The conflict: The documentary will also show what the web gives us access to, how quick it is to find general information and views from people who cant live without the Internet.

Structure: 

  • Start – What is the web? What does it do? Ask the question, can we live without it?
  • Middle – How will these 3 people cope (Mixture of facts and figures during this period) – Analysis of the people from experts.
  • End – Answering the main questions, round up, the future.

Resolution: The programme will ask the question specifically to the 3 subjects. What’s the future for the web.

Elements and Characters:

  • 3 Subjects – Male 18, Female 40, Male 65
  • Professionals – Owners of Wikipedia,  Facebook. Stats from websites such as BBC, Sky etc. Psychiatrists.

Length: 60 Minutes

#creativeact – The Empathy Task

Try and live with without something that other people don’t have (such as the internet, money, clean water, Facebook, supermarkets) for an extended period of time. Document your thoughts and feelings throughout this time.

For this weeks empathy task, I have chosen to live without the Internet for 48 hours. It’s going to be really really tough, I don’t think there is not an hour goes by without me surfing the web by some sorts. Either on Facebook/Twitter, shopping, looking at the news or doing my banking. I’ll be going back to the old means of using the TV or Newspapers for my information. The problem is that my Virgin TV service in my room is ran from the Internet, so I think that also counts, so i’ll be sticking to freeview! The more I think about it, the more I begin to hate the idea because I am probably the worst person to attempt this. I’ve been using the Internet since I had a old 56k dial-up connection in 2000 playing Return To Castle Wolfenstein, using retro messaging boards and slowly making my way around v.05 BETA of Habbo Hotel!

I will be recording video footage of the 48 hours to update on how the task is going. I think what’s important to show is what i’m actually doing and that needs to be done quickly because this is only a small 3 minute piece. The film we watched called “No Impact Man” got it’s point across really quickly which is key to immediately get the viewers attention. I feel a small montage of about 30 seconds explaining the internet and my plan would be great. As far as I can see, there hasn’t been a documentary focussing on people talking the Internet off, although I did find a strange website called ‘Turn Off The Internet‘. Apparently you can turn off all access to the Internet with just the push of one button, if only it was that simple!

#creativact – Apple Hits Back!

If you have been following my blog, you will know that as part of my case-study I’ve been looking at Apple’s “mistreatment” of workers.

This week, the NYTimes issued a report with some of the findings from the investigation they have been participating in. These are the main points from the report.

Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk. Under-age workers have helped build Apple’s products, and the company’s suppliers have improperly disposed of hazardous waste and falsified records. Shifts ran 24 hours a day, and the factory was always bright. At any moment, there were thousands of workers standing on assembly lines or sitting in backless chairs, crouching next to large machinery, or jogging between loading bays.

The NYTimes also spoke to former employees to get their opinion on the situation. Li Mingqi, a former manager at the plant said the following;

Apple never cared about anything other than increasing product quality and decreasing production cost. Workers’ welfare has nothing to do with their interests.

Former Apple executives also chipped in, anonymously of course, giving a very strong statement in regards to the “accidents” and explosions that have happened in the factories over the past year or so.

We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on. Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice. If half of iPhones were malfunctioning, do you think Apple would let it go on for four years? If you squeeze margins, you’re forcing them to cut safety.

Well, you know what they say about good timing. Today, Tim Cook (Apple CEO) has released a statement via email to all employee’s arguing against those NYTimes findings earlier in the week.

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