The two main concepts behind my Concept-in-60 are found in what I’ve decided to title it: Survival and Coexistence.
The digital alarmists out there, or other such folks who fail to understand the progression of technology and its impact, falling instead to hyperbole, would have you believe storytelling formats such as the good old novel are as good as dead. We’ve touched on this subject in class and read scholar Rober Coover’s stance on the matter in his article “The End of Books,” where he declares, in summation of the current ~digital age~, that printed mediums are now “a mere curiosity of bygone days destined soon to be consigned forever to those dusty unattended museums we now call libraries.” I’m here to tell you the novel is not dead.
Technology is constantly evolving. There’s always a new way of doing things, and it’s often very exciting to creative types. This same positive excitement can take a negative spin as well, of course, given how one percieves the changes. One might thing them a threat to how they like things – how things have always been done. Well, maybe they are threat! I, on the other hand, see things differently.
When it comes to new media, there is always “old” in the “new.” When it comes to technological advancement, it’s often fast – but it always brings along trappings of that which came before. This class, as a whole, has taught me to see both the potential in the “new” and the perseverance of the “old.”
I, in this video, want to emphasize both a rejection of technological fear, belonging to that alarmism that frustrates me so much, and an optimistic outlook on the future of all mediums.
I wanted my Concept-in-60 to be themed and I thought cyberpunk inspired media would work wonderfully for what I’m trying to do. The themes cyberpunk media often deal with – like transhumanism – resonate with the message I’m trying to get across. One of living with “the machine,” accepting “the machine,” and seeing the potential for good in “the machine.”
(It’s ironic that I use cyberpunk inspired media given that their universes are often dystopic and harsh and I’m trying to be optimistic, but I think it works in that it is hard to escape the pessimism that comes with technological advancement but there’s very cool and interesting things that come with it, too.)
I choose Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as the starting point of my video in form and in concept, both because it’s a traditionally printed novel and it largely spurred the cyberpunk movement. From there, I incorporate film with Blade Runner, which was inspired by Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and serves as the basis of inspiration for most of the media in its genre that comes after it. I hop to Giannis Milonogiannis’ cyberpunk cop comics with Old City Blues and pull in video games with Snatcher and Deus Ex: Human Revolution. There’s an intermingling in their showing up in the video, and it isn’t traditionally chronological until near the end when I do a flash-through of the content I’ve used in the video, and I think that’s important because I want to show that all of these forms of storytelling are related and draw upon one another.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a traditionally printed novel, as it came before the brunt of this “digital revolution,” but we see it preserved in ebook format in my video. This shows both a modern love for the “classic” in that technologies have been developed for the sole purpose of displaying novels digitally and a perseverance of the novel’s form in our current technological landscape.
Blade Runner is seen in a physical format – technically digital given that it’s a DVD, but give me a pass here – and also shown to be available online through Netflix (which has, sadly, since the shooting of my video has been taken down. Which is kind of okay, too, because Netflix had the theatrical version, and the Final Cut is much better). Netflix is a digital streaming service that sometimes even produces its own original video content in the style of television shows, showing that new distribution methods can effectively give the “old” new audiences, potential for discovery, and timelessness.
Old City Blues gets a lot of focus in the video, and for good reason. Old City Blues was first published online digitally by its author, then later physically printed, serving as a fantastic example of how “old” and “new” aren’t so far apart. The digital version is free to read online, serving as a sort of advertisement for the printed version – if you like the comic, you can choose to support it traditionally. It’s a new concept using old forms. It’s wonderful.
The video games I incorporate – Snatcher and Deus Ex: Human Revolution – are the most “new media” of the bunch. Video games are often home to a narrative, and therefore take on aspects and concepts of storytelling you’d see in novels, films, and comics. Though you don’t see it much in the video, Snatcher is actually a text-based adventure with images and animation to help tell its story and it’s heavily inspired by Blade Runner. Deus Ex: Human Revolution, on the other hand, is not so closely linked. Visually, though, it shows a massive progression in technological prowess and potential in comparison to Snatcher. Its footage serves as a fantastic bookend in the sense that the main character is shown being part man and part machine and being in awe of this blending. He is both “old” and “new.”
The final bookshelf scene visually drives home the “coexistence” theme.
I meant to create a certain type of “flow” throughout the video – a dark, murky flow. I thought it would capture the spirit of cyberpunk well if I went about things this way, and only serve to enhance everything I was doing by giving it thematic coherence.
So my video, as a whole, is supposed to show an intermingling of the “old” and “new,” progression, evolution, intermingling, perseverance, survival, and coexistence. I wanted to show the physical, both printed and technological (the Nook, the iPod), and the digital – their relationship. “New media” is largely just “old media” done in new ways, and I wanted to capture that complexity. I wanted to say that “the old doesn’t have to die, and it never really will, and it’s all still relevant. Oh, also, the new stuff can be cool, too!”
As for my actual creative process in a hands-on sense, I used Movie Maker 2012 to edit the video clips. The Kega Fusion emulator has a in-program video capture feature and can read and play SEGA CD discs, so I used that for getting the scenes of Snatcher I wanted. The footage from Deus Ex: Human Revolution was from the cinematic trailer the publisher released a while back so I just ripped that straight from YouTube using a site called ClipConverter, and the same goes for the in-game footage I ripped from the original gameplay trailer released for the game. The same goes for one of the Blade Runner clips, and I used that ScreenCastomatic doodad for getting the comic reader footage. Everything else was captured using a video camera, the footage later imported and edited. Any potential copyrighted footage is only used in very small bits so I should be fine as far as those concerns go.
The music I chose to use was Snatcher‘s opening track, “One Night in Neo Kobe City.” I really liked the vibe this track created, but I didn’t just want to take it and slap it on my project. To avoid copyright concerns, I’ve used Audacity to cut out the 50-or-so seconds I wanted (about 30% of the total song) and change its sound – its tempo, its pitch, its speed (slightly), and I even messed with the bass and treble levels. What’s created isn’t something wholly new, hence why I just state it’s “remixed” in the credits, but I think the changes work overall, and are especially noticeable during the synth saxophone section. I reviewed Winthrop’s own copyright guidelines, which states “students who are creating presentations for which they are graded are generally exempt from copyright restrictions on materials they embed in work to be graded,” but to both fulfill the requirements of this assignment and ease my own worries, I’ve made changes despite the potential fair-use protection.
There will be parts of my potential audience that won’t get the underlying themes of cyberpunk concretely, but perhaps they will vibe with the mood of it all, and understand the core of what I’m trying to say even if some of the thematic complexities are lost on them.
Creating this project made me reevaluate the way we can communicate using media. As Marshall McLuhan gets across in “The Medium is the Message,” the “message” of a creation is heavily impacted by the form in which it takes – its medium. The “message” is not the “content,” not exactly what it is about, but instead what it is made of, how it is presented, and what, in whole, it communicates or says because of all of these things together (205-209). New media, in its incorporation of images, text, sound, video, and animation, brings to light the complexities of the medium and the message. So many rhetorical choices, visual and auditory, working together to get something across. The process is often so complex it’s hard to consider the intricacies, but they’re there. It’s amazing.
“This is Scholarship” was one of the examples of new media video presentations we looked at in class. The creators, Braun and Gilbert, did some interesting things in recognizing the qualities unique to video and playing with them. I watched it before I created my rough draft to see a way to go about all of this, but upon doing so remembered how boring it was. This was both due to the subject matter (sorry) and the way it was all put together. But I recognized the video was made that way specifically considering what it was trying to do and who it was trying to communicate to. That matters.
My project, I believe, shows an embrace of the video medium and a consistent awareness of the message I want to emerge from it. I did my best to make it thematically solid, in terms of both what you see and what you hear, what you read and what you watch. All of it, I think works together well to say what I’m trying to say – to communicate that message.
I think my video is engaging. I think the ideas and the argument I’m trying to express are relevant and timely and should be considered – hopefully in more accepting, optimistic ways like the stance I take. I want my audience to engage their fears, to recognize the stance they take in this wild world of technological progression, and I want them to be mindful of the changes and the good. While there is no “active” engagement in the sense of interactivity, I think I do well to engage the audience’s sensibilities with the themes and entertain them with the direction.
This is, without a doubt, the most scholarly-sounding thing I’ve written all semester in this course. I did my best to try and get across everything that needed to be got across: why I did what I did, how I did what I did, what this all was a response to, and the information I considered going on.
In closing, I want to say that I kinda felt like I had an advantage once I started getting going on all of this. Like I intrinsically knew a lot of the concepts I was trying to employ. Part of it is this class bringing concepts to light, but the rest of it (and what I’d say a large part of it) comes from me growing up immersed in the language of new media.
Well, anyway, I hope you enjoyed my video, and I hope it makes sense to you.
Thanks a bunch, everyone, for a great semester.
Braun, Catherine C., & Gilbert, Kenneth L. “This Is Scholarship.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy, 12.3 (2008): n. pag. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Coover, Robert. “The End of Books.” The New York Times On the Web. The New York Times Company, 21 June 1992. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” Winthrop Copyright Policy. Winthrop University, 9 Aug. 2006. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
McLuhan, Marshall. “Two Selections by Marshall McLuhan: The Galaxy Reconfigured, The Medium is the Message.” The New Media Reader (2003): 203-9. Web. 5. Dec. 2013.