Heads Or Tails

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When looking through William Gibson’s twitter feed, I found that there were many tweets that caught my attention however none that came with coherent ideas that I could use. That was until I came across the retweet above. It was here that multiple ideas came to me at once, though none that would make the cut, that was until I thought about it in a different light.

As I didn’t want to create a video that reflected the literal meaning of the tweet, I decided to take a different approach by looking at other aspects of life that have changed and may be seen as making our future worse than we “could have possibly imagined”.

Before even deciding on my concept, I decided to look up Murphy’s Law stating, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. This sparked an interest with me, connecting it closely to the use of money and more particularly coins. I had watched a video, which used a coin for its childish game of heads or tails. This was where I made the connection between the coin, Murphy’s Law and Gibson’s tweet. That money was the damager that would always go wrong but was also our way of letting it choose fate for us.

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The Creator

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The definition of uncanny can be seen as subjective. It is a translation of the German word unheimliche meaning the opposite to what is familiar. Something, which is seen as a mixture of the familiar and unfamiliar, that is often experienced as strange or peculiar. Freud explored the uncanny by using the story of ‘The Sand Man’ fading in and out between the illusion of fantasy and reality. I wanted to merge these two conflicting ideas into one using the fictional story Frankenstein for the bases of my images. I also wanted to incorporate the story of creation as to me it is unsettling to imagine the one being creating us “in his own image”. As child I had a constant fear that my stuffed animals would come to life and play with me at night as I did with them during the day. Therefore using the element of control by and from the creator I made that the main purpose and direction for my images.

The Uncanny

The uncanny can be described as the strange or mysterious, usually in an unsettling way. It takes the natural and turns in unnatural using elements that highlight or focus upon certain features of an images that make will make it abnormal or odd to the audience.

The uncanny comes from the German word unheimliche, this is known as what is unfamiliar “the opposite of what is familiar”. What the uncanny intends to do is create the unknown, the strange within an image that we would normally deem natural.

In psychological terms, when we see something our brains will try and associate a familiarity to an image. However, with the uncanny, our brains are unable to do that. We struggle to find the natural within the unnatural therefore find it odd and unpleasing as we can’t relate anything to it.

Sigmund Freud wrote a paper using a story to ‘The Sand Man’ to illustrate the uncanny which he used. He describes it as being the illusion of fantasy and reality, the line that draws them together but never allowing them to met as such. It draws upon elements of both areas to create the uncanny.

But I shall not lie to you, the concept of the uncanny is a strange one at that…oh that irony! But it is and it is hard to grasp at times, especially when it comes to finding the strange, odd and abnormal sides to things. It is a hard concept to find the line between cliche and original. this is because we have become so use to the strange andy eerie through the endless amounts of horror movies we have all seen. This makes it difficult to find the uncanny in everyday objects or settings.

The best way to get to grips with the uncanny is to know about the uncanny valley and see where that leads us.

Media Circus

For this assignment my aim was to create a piece of sound with ambient and abstract sounds that would get my audience to think about what they are listening to. Through these sounds I wanted to give off the idea of something significant that had a profound effect on our lives. Therefore I wanted to project the everyday occurrences that have taken over from a personal level to a global scale and how we get side tracked into it so quickly. I managed to effectively achieve this through recording everyday sounds that related back to my concept or that held an underlining tone of what I wanted to portray. I hope that my audience will capture the media and technological aspect of my piece and how we accumulated so much of it through the dynamics of the piece and its structure, causing it to have great power and authority over us.

The Art of Noise…

During this week I have discovered that noise can be art. Who knew? I only figured this out while I was recording some sound clips for my assignment. Now it wasn’t just then that it hit me that noise is art. In fact I just went round and recorded any noise that I could find that related to what I wanted to link to the notion of authority.

On that note I finally decided what I wanted my 1-minute sound piece to be on, it took a while but I finally got there! I was watching television the other day and it got me thinking about how the media controls us and has an unseemly amount of power over us, getting us to do things without us even noticing. Granted this does fit in conjunction with my topics being learnt in my media and communications class. We had been talking about the blame being placed on the media and if it was justified and that’s what got me thinking, we are robots to the media and it devices or mediums, if you must call them. Which again links to another one of my media and communications courses stating that ‘the medium is the message’.

But enough about the back-story on how I got my idea, this post is about how I got noise to turn into art. I had finished recording all the sounds that I though would link back to my idea. I recorded my ambient background sound that was a singing bowl I brought down from home, I recorded myself flicking through the channels on the television getting a wide range of sounds ranging from adverts to news reports and TV shows, I captured clicking of keys on a key board, looking in the fridge, playing with plastic bag and running water from the tap.

Now I’m not going to lie I felt a bit overwhelmed with all the sounds I had recorded not knowing where to start. But I decided to play around my with ambient sound, slowing it down and repeating it. It was after that, that things started falling into place; I was able to just place pieces of sound in anywhere I felt it needed it, playing around with effects changing the sound completely in some cases.

This was when I had my huzzah moment! I had found the art in noise; I had created art out of everyday noise with meaning that stretched deeper that what was just carried on the surface. There’s still more to be done but it’s getting there, just needs some fine-tuning but that’s progress!

Until next time…

You’ve been you and I’ve been Schoenberg.

Do you really listen?

Sound is a strange concept when you really think about. We are so oblivious to the meanings of sound as we go through our everyday lives not really paying little attention to what we hear around us, only letting it stay as an annoying background noise unless its a soundtrack we’re listening to on our way to work or having a conversation about someone. We never stop to wonder or have a deeper thoughts about the sounds we hear. I had my first MEDA101 tutorial yesterday and we were looking into the topic of sound. Even more so into the notion that sound could bring meaning to particular topics, for me it was the notion of authority.

When I first heard about this I immediately thought of the most obvious sound, such as police sirens, car horns, gunshots on a battlefield and big explosions. Those to me sounded like the sounds of authority, something with a higher power directly related to the government or some political standing. But as the lesson went on I realised that this was not the case. We ended up watching a video of Laurie Anderson’s ‘O’Superman’, which used different sounds to convey a notion of authority, hierarchy and power. It was an absurd interpretation of this notion using voice, vision and sound in a way that I had never seen it been used before. She was able to delve deeper into the meaning of each sound that she had created and used to create this spectacular piece of work, which broke the barriers of what we are use to hearing and instead point out the “realm of meaning”.

From this video and our new found understanding and appreciation of sound we were given the task to note down the sounds we associated with the nation of authority. Now to be honest this did mean I had to take a moment to really sit about and think about this, but I think I’ve got something, well its a start it’s only been my first lesson! But here we go, these are the sounds that I think may offer reference to the notion of authority…

Keeping on the same line as the most obvious sounds that offer the notion of authority would come from, powerful people such as a teacher in a classroom or a political figure making a speech. But to get more technical…

Ambient sounds: a solo bird tweeting, humming of live electricity, slamming of a door in the distance, friction of train wheels on a train track, rustling of leaves and a deep humming

Sound effects: distortion of the voice creating a robotic or more powerful tone, amplified ambient sounds

Heavy constant beat signifying authority and time moving as one at a constant speed always accompanying each other

Readings, voices and narrations: a story being told in perfect balance of binary in conjunction with the constant beat working together.

Authority being everywhere and though we try to go against it, it will always be there around us and ultimately it works.

Voices: many voices in a crowd, but one stands out the most amplified above the noise, layering to create an echo of this one expression of authority To me these sounds offer a reference to the notion of authority through the way in which they can be heard. In my mind they will offer different variations of authority through the distance at which they are recorded therefore adding depth into the piece that would be created. These sounds speak clearly to me as sounds that offer authority in their own ways, whether it be from the echo of a solo bird as it shows pride or through the slamming of a door because it creates fear and stillness once it has been sounded. It is a strange concept to think about after so many years of not really listening to the sounds around me. Though I feel this moment on I shall appreciate sound more for its qualities rather thanit’s presence. Take a listen to the sounds around next time you’re out on your morning stroll and see what you can make out just by listening.


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