All posts tagged: media theory

in pursuit of social change

This essay analyzes the construction and filmmaking approach used in “Cidade de Deus” (referred to as City of God throughout), a 2002 Brazilian film directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, based on the semi-autobiographical novel of the same title, by Paulo Lins. The film was an international commercial success, receiving widespread critical acclaim, sweeping the awards of international festivals in 2002-2003. The film illuminates the darkest corners Rio’s favela’s in the 1960s – 1980s, raising the invisibility cloak on its most vulnerable inhabitants — the children who are brought into gangs, drug trafficking and who ultimately become victims of gun violence at a young age. While there does not appear to be clear quantifications of the film’s impact, nor its ability to garner social change (particularly for residents of the favelas), the construction of the film/ story can be credited (at least in part) in catalyzing much needed dialogue in Brazil and abroad about the social crises central to the film. The term ‘favela’ refers to highly populated urban agglomerations that emerged in Rio …

narrative reframing

This essay focuses on the first season of the Serial podcast, analyzing the narrative approach used in Sarah Koenig’s investigation of an old murder case. In covering the story, Koenig managed to correct cultural biases/ judgements inherent in the original criminal trial, and revealed a separation between truth and fact in the case, resulting in an upcoming retrial of the person convicted. Much of this was achieved through various techniques and aesthetics used in her reframing of the case narrative. Using the lens of theorists Palmenfelt and Jennings, I hope to illuminate the narrative approaches used, through an ethnographic analysis of aspects of the narration, and through examining theories around oral storytelling traditions employed in the podcast series. Serial’s Season 1 (referred to as ‘Serial’ throughout) is an episodic podcast first available late in Fall 2014. The podcast covers Sarah Koenig’s journalistic investigation into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, a high school student in Baltimore, Maryland. Her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed was convicted of first degree murder the following year and given a life …

reclaiming identity

Of the myriad of impacts from colonization is the fragmentation of cultural/ ancestral knowledge. At the intersection of technology, identity and creativity for several media artists from indigenous and displaced communities, is the reconstruction and perpetuation of cultural of knowledge. Contemporary media artists from these communities are using emerging technologies to explore, recapture and revitalise cultural knowledge and spiritual connections to reclaim identity and preserve this knowledge for future generations. This essay focuses on projects by Mi’gmaq-Canadian artist and professor, Dr. Lila Pine and Afro-Caribbean-American artist, Vashti Harrison; looking at their use of technology to reclaim indigenous knowledge and to (re)construct identity.    Linguistic Visualizations Dr. Lila Pine is a Mi’gmaq-Canadian new media artist and professor based in Toronto. She combines oral and scholarly traditions, sociolinguistics and media making into her work, to deepen the understanding of the ways we ‘speak’ and ‘know’ (RTA).   Dr. Pine’s “Imag(in)ing Indigeneity in Language” project digitally captures visualizations of linguistic sound. The intention is to uncover visual differences in linguistic structures as a means to explore/ convey impacts …

where control ends and freedom begins…

This essay explores the permeability of space within technologically constructed realities, in the quest of finding where control ends and freedom begins (for an individual or subculture). The role technology plays within the constructed realities represented in “The Truman Show” and “Neuromancer,” points to media (models, spaces, content, interactions) as being purveyors of cultural control. The concept of ‘culture’ is defined as “an ensemble of beliefs and practices that form a given culture, function as a pervasive technology of control, a set of limits within which social behaviour must be contained, a repertoire of models to which individuals must conform” (Greenblatt 225). In this discussion, technology has two functions: a technical role in the construction of spaces and the impact the space has on the people who use it. This will be explored in the constructed realities evident in ¨The Truman Show¨ and ¨Neuromancer.¨ The attention to detail in the crafting of “The Truman Show,” enables the audience to peel away layers like an onion, in its examination of the manipulation vs. complicity debate in …

how art has evolutionary value…?

“Without the art of storytelling, without the human impulse to catch and hold the attention of others through narratives with expectation-violating, larger-than-life powers, religion could not have arisen [..] Art has played a central function in human lives, not only in itself, but also in giving rise to religion and then reinforcing, through augmenting the impact of ritual, religion’s power to cement group cohesion.”1 In this paper, I use anthropological viewpoints to unpack the task of substantiating how art has evolutionary value. At the centre of this ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question, (“Does art have evolutionary value?”) lies the unacknowledged role belief plays in answering it. Drawing on the work of Ellen Dissanayake and others, this essay will illuminate the evolutionary value of art in relation to the core ideas of human adaptation around culture and evolutionary theory.    In the book, “The Artful Species: Aesthetics, Art and Evolution,” author Stephen Davies describes the role of art as “a cultural product resting on evolved capacities, that lead us to be creators, transmitters, preservers, and incremental improvers …

a socio-determinist critique…

“A SOCIO-DETERMINIST CRITIQUE OF MEDIA IMPERIALISM AS AN AMPLIFIER OF HOW GLOBAL ENGLISH IS FELT AS A BOUNDARY” We have really turned English into an international language, but not based on anything more than political power. We didn’t look at the nuances of the language, we didn’t look at how useful the language could be in translating ideas. You could also say it, not only, came from political power, but also technological power, which is, of course, linked to politics. And is English the most effective way to translate those ideas? Who knows. ~ Julia Walters (Ramlochan, Studio Interview)   This essay builds on ideas explored in my podcast “Boundarylines.”  The podcast presents a survey of boundaries — how it feels to be on the inside or outside of a boundary; what makes a boundary concrete, etc. The podcast narrows to an interview with Julia Walters (JW), an MA student in the Immigrant & Settlement Studies program at Ryerson, where she discusses her interest in linguistics and how the global dominance of English is felt …

cyborgian-isms, identity construction and media amplification

A GALILEAN DIALOGUE mcluhan: Artists perceive the changes caused by new media. They recognize the future in the present, while using their work to prepare the world for changes that aren’t yet apparent to others (McLuhan 3-4; Patel). Would you say the “Cyborg Manifesto” is an example of one such creative expression? haraway: Yes and no. To be honest, I just prefer to live within indigestible, overly-intellectual political heritages (Gane & Haraway 139). mcluhan: I, myself, use facts as preliminary probes, as a means of gaining insight… of pattern recognition. I’d prefer to map new terrain than retrace steps over old territory. Humans are just beginning to understand the new technology, but not enough of them and not well enough. I see all media as extensions of man, causing deep and lasting changes in him and his environment (McLuhan 3- 4; Patel). That’s what I took your “Cyborg Manifesto” to be about. haraway: Yes… in part. The “Cyborg Manifesto” is really a feminist theoretical document. A coming to terms with the world we live in… …

taking flight: perspectives from the depths of an ideas factory

An essay that was published as part of the sarai 09: projections reader of the series of sarai readers. The essay follows the life of an idea and its propensity to travel far in the digital age, given the right coalescing conditions. It explores the process of fermenting ideas from within an ad agency and parallels this with the conditions which catapult social movements forward. download essay