Video Documentary Creative Process

Following research my Final Major Project split into two different responses, one of these was the ASL image set and the other is a supporting documentary which would investigate the dynamics of online culture using people’s real experiences and thoughts. My inspiration came predominately from researching avenues including the Channel Four shorts, ‘5000 Feet Is The Best’ by Omar Fast and ‘Conversations With Myself’ by Karen Brett. As my Final Major Project addresses a subject that is part of the developing digital culture, I felt that I should produce work that not only operated in the space of an exhibition but also in an online space. This would be extremely important in order to engage with the audience in which I am attempting to address: digital natives. These individuals are literate and highly active in online spaces therefore by producing a piece that works digitally I stand a better chance at engaging and interacting with my intended audience. I will of course be transforming my images set from the exhibition to work in an online space as I feel this is extremely important too.

I wanted my video to be formed out of interview type responses, similar to that of the Channel Four short ‘Tofu’ and ‘5000 Feet Is The Best’. I didn’t have a specific criteria for who to interview however I was aware I would probably get the most appropriate and useful answers from interviewees who are digital natives. For this reason I wanted to try and interview university students as it would mean I had easy access to them and they wouldn’t have to travel a long way. The only real constrain was finding willing participants because other students were either occupied with work or simply didn’t feel comfortable taking part. However I did manage to find some willing participants so I set to work conducting the interviews. One thing I noticed about the interviews I had seen in the short documentaries was that they kept the background constant for each person. In response I chose to shoot the interviews in the photography studio so that the background and the lighting could be consistent, the photography building was also a good, neutral place to meet as opposed to conducting the interview in personal spaces as this could make people feel more uncomfortable about taking part.

Once I had started arranging the location and seeking participants for the interviews, I needed to establish what sort of questions I would be asking them. This could be a fixed set of questions or it could be a starting question with instinctive ones following it to get different answers out of the interview. I outlined a few major questions that I would ask and determined I would read the tone of the interview and ask intuitive questions based on the responses the participants gave.

My initial questions would be:

  1. Do you communicate with other people online?
  2. Have you ever communicated with someone anonymously online?
  3. Do you think you communicate differently with people online than you do face-to-face?
  4. Is there any danger to communicating online?
  5. What advice would you give to someone who was going to communicate anonymously online but hadn’t ever used the Internet before?

The last question I held back as it seemed like a good finishing question to round the interview up and provide closure. This also brought a sense of morality and responsibility as the participant had to consider the physical and emotional safety of this hypothetical person, bringing it back to my original Final Major Project proposal as I wanted to reunite the audience with feelings of responsibility.

With everything arranged for the interview I then needed to carry them out, I had three people scheduled to take part before Easter and I planned to secure many more during the Easter break in order to carry them out in the early moments after coming back. When carrying out my first interview and examining the footage afterwards, I came across a few challenges. I had used the microphone attachment on the Edirol sound recorder because I wanted a more focused sound however it was hard to get the right input level without getting the microphone in the shot of the camera that was also recording. I ended up with some noise on my sound recording however I was able to remove it by opening the file in Audacity and using the tools available. I used the microphone again on my second interview and was able to counteract the problem slightly by having the participant hold the microphone so I could stay behind the camera and control the proceedings but have good sound at the same time. On the third interview I tried without the microphone attachment, just using the in-built ones on the edirol recorder. Although these are usually to record ambient sound, I tried recording the interview with it because the studio was very quiet therefore it the edirol would only pick up the talking and it wouldn’t search for ambient sound because it had the voice as a dominant source to focus on. This sound recording turned out to be much better, I decided that my interviews after Easter should be recording using the internal microphone rather than the microphone attachment because it gave me a better quality sound recording.

With some footage taken both an audio recording and a moving image recording from a camera, I then wanted to start putting some footage together into a video to explore the potential dynamics and structure. I imported the sound and visual footage into Adobe Premiere Pro and started marking out sections of speech that I felt was effective. In using the footage I found that I liked listening to just the sound, not hearing the person behind it. For me, seeing the person while they are talking was too simplistic; one of the main reasons why I found ‘5000 Feet Is The Best’ and ‘Conversations With Myself’ so effective was the non-linear and experimental dynamic and structure which meant the audience wasn’t spoon-fed the information but instead had to seek an interpretation for themselves. I decided I wanted to try and balance the simplicity and straight-forwardness of the Channel Four shorts with the sense of mystery, experimental techniques and more artistic approach taken by Omar Fast and Karen Brett in their moving-image pieces. After deciding on different visuals for my moving image, I needed to begin filming visual footage to go along with the audio recordings. Taking some inspiration from Martha Rosler and her work on representation, I didn’t want the visual footage to be an obvious representation however I still wanted it to compliment the interviews rather than challenge and perhaps deconstruct the content. I’ve also noticed that some of the effective music videos like Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church’ that I have related to have been following a story in the visual sense whilst the music explores perhaps the same concept through sound. It is this approach I want to take when producing my moving image documentary and in response I need to work quickly to produce the visual content as well as the audio.

When researching moving image and documentaries I came across the release of a new Channel Four fiction drama Cyberbully exploring the concept of bullying online. I was really interested in the way that it was filmed, with only one central character seen and the entire piece taking place in one bedroom.

This example of following a singular story is definitely appealing and I think the constant surroundings of using one room would keep the visual content simple enough to not overwhelm the audio. Taking inspiration from this program I wanted to try and use my own bedroom and myself as the study for my visual content. I wanted to try and concentrate down on my own physical mannerisms when using online communication without actually showing my face, keeping the idea of anonymity in my documentary. Filming aspects like me moving my feet and fidgeting with my hands and coupling it with generic shots of the keyboard, the computer screen and other personal aspects of my room would build up the idea of a character whilst associating it with online communication.

One of the suggestions from the formative feedback review in relation to my documentary was that I could interview anonymous online users as it would give me a different perspective to the subject, perhaps more insightful because it is those individuals who are using them so I can better understand their motives. I decided to go back to the anonymous chat room I used to conduct my initial research and ultimately where the concept of my ASL image set came from. I then proceeded to enter a chat with an individual with the view of finding out more about who they were psychologically and their motives behind this form of communication. In hindsight I began this chat in the wrong way, it was unethical of me not to ask permission before communicating with the individual, so naturally at the end when I asked if they were alright with me using their responses they felt a betrayal of trust. This was an important lesson for my project as it revealed how exploitative these chat rooms can be when the individual invests trust in the confidentiality and the fleeting nature of the communication. Most individuals enter this form of communication because they don’t expect what they say to be taken outside of the chat room, therefore it allows them a sense of freedom. In addition to this, my research of the online disinhibition effect suggests that an anonymous or pseudonym format allows an individual to be more expressive, either in a positive or volatile manner.

Moving on from this first encounter, I decided to start another chat however straight away I asked the individual whether they were comfortable for me to ask them questions and for me to use their responses in my final major project as anonymous quotes. For those who were comfortable I progressed with the interview, for those who weren’t I thanked them for their time and ended the chat to avoid any further discomfort for them. In the chat sessions with the willing participants I asked the following fixed questions with any additional intuitive questions, similar to that of the face-to-face interviews.

  • Why do you do anonymous online chatting?
  • Do you think you communicate differently online than you would face to face?

I started getting responses that correlated to the findings of the research papers that I had read, that anonymous chatting allows the user to express themselves in a way they might find difficult in person. Quite a common instance was that a male user would find it much easier and more comfortable to communicate to a female user online as there was less pressure on the conversation than there would be if it was face-to-face. For some people it was just a tool to continue their love of communicating people however being anonymous meant that they didn’t have filter their personality as their responses couldn’t be associated with their identity. This wasn’t necessarily just for volatile or adult conversations, for some individuals it was simply because their personality isn’t one that is considered to be the ‘social norm’ therefore they might feel they can’t really be their full self in physical interactions. The responses from these online interviews complimented and in some cases contrasted the responses from the physical interviews I conducted. I definitely wanted to include some of the online interview responses as quotes as I felt it added depth to the investigation and provided a different viewpoint.

Using online interviews adds a sense of conflict and corruption because there is the chance that the anonymous user could have lied about their motivation and given me false answers. However as explored in one interview face-to-face, aside from the obvious factors like gender and age, to some extent an individual can lie to you just as much as an anonymous user. Challenges to truthful representation and depiction have also been considered heavily in the practice of photography, this relates quite well to the premise of deception in online communication. Whereas the typed word is one form of communication, the photographic image is another.

 

EVALUATION

Although I had made some substantial progress in the making of my video documentary, I realised that I wasn’t as enchanted with it as the images I was making. Having revisited it several times, I identified that I was still unhappy with some of the audio and was having trouble matching visual clips to it and achieving the desired effect. Following a talk from two employees of the film company DuckRabbit I realised that making a short documentary in itself is a task that requires a substantial amount of work; by trying to focus on two different projects at once, I was limiting myself and my work from reaching the full potential. I decided that I should postpone the making of my video documentary and not include it in my final major project. This would be a project that could revisit in my time after university as a long-term project which would enable me to spend the time and effort which it deserves. The research and the making of the documentary, the ideas that it uncovered will inform my decisions surrounding my photographic work as they engage with a dystopian future and also the concept of identity.

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Research – Channel Four Shorts

Channel Four is known for producing and showing documentaries that other channels perhaps wouldn’t have that explore subjects that have previously been considered as very personal such as sexuality and explore environments that are considered to be quite private such as police stations and A&E. In addition to these documentaries, Channel Four has also recently started producing ‘shorts’ which are smaller documentaries that range from anything as little as two minutes to longer ten-minute pieces. These shorts cover a wide range of subjects and each take different approaches, in addition to this they are being displayed in an environment that is native to the audience with whom they are aiming to engage; each short is displayed on Channel Four’s On Demand website. As a response I have chosen to research and analyse these shorts in relation to my Final Major Project as they are a fresh new method of discussing content.

 

Bad Dates

This is a series of shorts which tell the story of people’s first dates:

  • These are some of the shorter documentaries but they are still really effective
  • Each one is an anecdote of a memory or experience
  • The person involved narrates the story whilst other actors act out the situation
  • The narrators voice is the only voice in the video (the actors lip-sync along to the speech)
  • Each story is kept short and quirky to keep the audience’s attention
  • These documentaries aren’t meant to be serious, there is a real element of humour and dramatisation
  • It isn’t really meant to educate or provoke any deep thoughts about dating, it’s just a humours anecdote from people who believe they have had a bad date and want to share it

I really like this series of shorts, they are quirky and comical, in evaluation I would need more time than a couple of minutes to make a comprehensive documentary on my subject matter however I could always take a different approach and make a two minute short to tell individual story or experience. I don’t think I would use the specific approach they have taken with actors acting out the story, my visuals would either be the person being interviewed or something different.

 

Selfies

This series of shorts was made up of four videos in which individuals, specifically at the age of being a student (late teens/early twenties) were given hand held cameras and asked to film their experience. This produced four videos approximately seven minutes long on average which would work to be a self-portrait of their current emotional and physical state.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/selfies

  • The longer approach forms a longer, developed narrative which tracks a period longer than the time it takes to speak an anecdote
  • Each ‘selfie’ has a concept behind it: a point to be proven, recording a special event, telling the truth about their situation or sharing a part of a journey.
  • The filming is up to the people in the videos so depending on the individual’s creativity there is a range of different angles
  • The content is also down to the producer of the video so Channel Four doesn’t have direct control over what goes in the video however I am expecting there was a certain selection process and requirements as there are two males and two females, two stories are more positive and two are slightly more serious.
  • I also don’t know how collaborative the editing process was, whether the subject had a part in editing their story so Channel Four presumably still had most of the control over the final outcome.

If I was to produce a larger documentary on one individual this would possibly be my approach. The technique of giving the subject the camera to create their own representation is interesting and is definitely something I should consider if I am going to be telling someone else’s story. Collaborative negotiation has proven to be an effective form of representation as demonstrated by Wasma Mansour and Sarah Davidmann so this is definitely an approach I need to consider.

 

Tofu

This is one element of a three-part series from Channel Four that covers all aspects of sex and sexuality made by YouTuber Benjamin Cook.

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/tofu

  • This explores a concept rather than an individual story and it features the same people each time talking about these different contexts
  • There is a range of different settings and poses to provide visual variety and a range of different people that are being interviewed, some of them are cast members from the linked fictional pieces Banana and Cucumber
  • Tofu is a series of approximately 10 minute episodes
  • You know what concept you are talking about straight away as the documentary is arranged in a fashion that makes it very obvious
  • There is a loose structure to each episode, there is usually an introduction accompanied with music to outline the subject of the episode, then it progresses to talking more in depth
  • Each episode has the same structure, interviews from the same pool of people, the only variant between each episode is the actual content; as it is a series of episodes it needs to be consistent to be consumed easily
  • The motive behind these episodes are perhaps to educate and to encourage the viewer to talk about the same concepts explored in each episode

I think Tofu is very effective, the experience viewing it is really positive despite it tackling subjects that could be considered ‘taboo’ in society. However I am aware that the motive for these videos would be that effect, making the experience of viewing easier and positive encourages the viewer to return. This is something I would have to consider if I was going to make a short documentary, whether it would be a series of videos or whether it would just be an individual video. If I was making a series I would need to consider whether I keep the style and the structure consistent or make something completely different. I think that also depends on whether the content of the video would be the same or if I was exploring something different. The longer length of the video I think makes it easier to explore a subject in depth, the viewer has to engage with the content for longer however I believe that it would be more rewarding after they had completed the viewing.

 

Reflection:

Each of these documentaries have different aspects which are successful and appropriate for the content they are exploring. An informal approach seems to be the most common theme when discussing personal experiences because it makes the viewer and the subject feel more comfortable about engaging with material they perhaps wouldn’t in everyday discussions. I definitely need to find a way to put my subjects at ease when making my video documentary however this is also a concept I can apply to my photographic practice as a subject is more likely to give me more if they are comfortable around me. It appears that a longer video allows more exploration into the subject however I need to balance this aim of including lots of content with making sure the video is short and effective; this will come through planning and editing to follow a specific narrative. I also need to think about whether this comfortable informal theme is actually appropriate for my work, it might work in the approach to making interviews and filming however if I want to make a serious statement about the concept I am exploring perhaps I should make a documentary with a more formal, serious tone. I will continue my research into other documentaries and moving image pieces with a more serious tone to see whether these would suit my concept better. However it could be that a serious set of images in the exhibition, accompanied by a less serious, informal video documentary would work well and engage with many different audiences. It would also mean that my work can operate in many different contexts as well as just the degree show exhibition. My research into Channel Four has established a good founding for the creative process behind my video documentary, I have identified a good approach for making interviews which will hopefully give me more from the subjects I choose. I have also decided that additional research is needed before I decide on an informal tone to the actual video documentary, as it could well be that a serious atmosphere would be much more appropriate for my concept.

 

Research – Conversations with Myself

In my first apt with Anthony he recommended I research the film ‘Conversations with Myself’ by Karen Brett which explores the obsessive behaviour from those suffering with OCD, which manifests as specific habits such as checking.

https://vimeo.com/49385353

To visit Karen’s website click here

  • The shot is very static, the subject is the only thing that really moves in the frame
  • The colours are quite muted and the filming is very soft, this is meant to be a comfortable environment because this is her home
  • The open doorways being so static give the impression that actually this house is her prison
  • The subject moving so regularly in and out of the doorways to check everything is really quite a frustrating viewing experience for the viewer who just wants the film to move on
  • The filming isn’t focusing on the subject, it is presenting a view on the way the subject interacts with the environment around her
  • There is no additional footage other than the subject and her home, to really focus down on the important issue, which is the checking behaviour
  • The filming composition is very architectural, quite clean, the environment itself is not complicated which encourages the viewer to consider the subject more
  • The heavy breathing and the whispering makes the film so much more intimate, as if we are in the head of the subject, creating a very intense and uncomfortable feeling
  • The content of the audio is really quite distressing because of the way phrases are repeated ‘the door is shut so everything is safe’ and ‘please just let me go’
  • Usually heavy breathing and whispering would indicate a process of meditation however this idea is warped, just as the subject’s way of thinking is compromised by her obsessive compulsive disorder
  • The lengthen of the film, although shorter in this clip makes it easier to view, when viewing the longer version the feeling of unease and frustration would continue and build in the viewer, so they have an idea of what it feels like to go through this sensation

 

Reflection:

This film is incredibly effective at what it is meant to achieve, this feeling of unease and uncomfortableness which accompanies the need to check everything for this sufferer of OCD. The feeling of intimacy and intensity created through the audio makes you as the viewer feel like you are in her head and sharing the experience which amplifies the uncomfortable viewing experience. There is a real sense of frustration created when watching the subject interact with her environment, the constant moving backwards and forwards to check the different parts of the house prevent any sort of momentum in the film, which really suits the concept. It is a frustrating experience to watch the same thing over and over again and this reflects the inner feelings of frustration and despair the sufferers of OCD must feel, as they are trapped in their own obsessive compulsive behaviour. The static framing also creates the impression that this is a normal, fixed situation that the subject continuously goes through, the fact there is no change in the framing and composition, no cutting in this piece suggests that she goes through the same process day after day. It is almost as if we are seeing her condition as a fly on the wall, as part of the house she lives in, but we are experiencing it with her through sound. A fixed frame could easily have suggested that this is a fairly normal sensation to be feeling, and it does suggest that this is typical behaviour from the subject, but the idea of normal is destructed by the intense audio which replaces the idea of normal with feelings of unease and frustration. I will definitely be using this piece as inspiration when approaching my own moving image piece, because I feel that a conceptual angle could work for it. I could try and create the feelings of elation, anxiety and anger that are exaggerated in online spaces, which is abnormal behaviour in real life.

 

Research – 5000 feet is the best

In the group tutorial with Emma Critchley she encouraged me to research the short film 5000 Feet is the Best by filmmaker Omer Fast which explores the life and experience of a drone pilot. Although the video itself is restaged with actors, it is based on a real life interview and there are some elements of this real life interview in there.

5000 Feet is the Best, 2011

To see the full video click here

  • The video doesn’t start as expected, it doesn’t easily introduce the viewer into what the concept is about
  • It establishes the viewer initially as this unwanted presence in the interview space in which the subject is being asked questions to which he provides cryptic, irritated responses
  • We get a notion of what the interview is about when the dynamic switches, we get a blurred out face and the audio from the real subject behind the film – he then describes why 5000 feet is the best for the drone
  • There is a sense of deja vu, we see the beginning scenes again but with a little more detail and with greater hindsight we can interpret it more effectively
  • There are stories or memories that appear irrelevant, but they are visualised and acted out in this film
  • We revert backwards and forwards from the real audio from the real drone pilot and the actor playing him in the interview
  • The visuals when the real drone pilot is speaking switches between his blurred out face, but mostly sweeping visuals filmed from either a plane or drone footage
  • He talks about the gap between his actions and the environment in which they are played out – he may not be personally harmed but it still affects him, the dynamic is that of a video game but he can’t actually switch it off and step away from it. The difference between him and a normal soldier is that he isn’t ‘in the trenches’, there is a distancing
  • There is a story acted out, of a family travelling in a car who come across a group of armed men burying an unknown object. They actually get bombed (we presume by a drone) and they are killed. This story is constantly narrated by the actor playing the drone pilot.
  • Then it switches to the real drone pilot who tells his story of the particular event; we just hear the audio from the drone pilot, the visuals is a view of Las Vegas from the sky filmed from a plane.
  • The film finishes with the actor playing the drone pilot, walking away from the interview. There are sirens in the background which the viewer would associate with emergency activity.
  • We are left thinking about the drone pilot and how he is responsible for killing people. But then the sirens remind me personally of the 911 attacks so I then try and balance out his actions with that of the terrorists who staged these attacks.

This piece is incredibly effective, despite the length being thirty minutes which is a long time for a viewer to commit and constantly engage with the content. The changing dynamic and structure of the film however counteracts this and works the draw to viewer in. The experience of watching this isn’t easy because the video itself isn’t linear, it constantly jumps between the re-enacted interview and the audio from the real one so we are constantly questioning what is ‘real’ and what isn’t. The concept behind the video isn’t revealed straight away so we are constantly searching for the ‘meaning’ behind this video and we latch on the to quote ‘5000 feet is the best’ because we can recognise this from the title.

Gradually as we are fed more information we start to understand the situation better, as the video progresses we hear the term ‘drone pilot’ used more often so we know what the video is actually about. The various anecdotes and stories acted out helps the viewer personally engage with the video and entices them in because the stories themselves are interesting and seem to be somewhat philosophical yet we can’t actually grasp a definitive moral from it. This essentially is the dynamic of the video, it is not commenting on whether drone technology is right or wrong, it just examines the life of the man who pilots one.

There are various attempts to address the dynamic of being a drone pilot, the interview in the video prompts this by asking what the difference is between  normal pilot and the subject being interviewed. However this isn’t exactly met with a helpful response as the drone pilot is clever enough to know what sort of response the viewer wants, he delivers the concept that he’s not ‘in the trenches’ with the soldiers as there is a distance in his practice. In the real audio from the drone pilot he compares his work to that of a video game; he is accessing a different world through a screen in which he can move around and interact however he can’t step away from this world like a game player can because his actions are cause and effect and he is responsible for them.

This distance between the person, the screen and their actions is a concept I want to explore in my final major project. I believe that this documentary is really effective at achieving this because the nonlinear structure reflects the complexities involved with the job of being a drone pilot. The dynamic and structure of this documentary is definitely an approach I should consider when approaching my final major piece. To conceal the concept behind the video and gradually reveal it has proven to be a captivating and though provoking approach, I will definitely consider using this technique when producing my piece.

Another interesting element in this piece is the aspect of privacy, the real footage from the interview with the drone pilot is blurred so you can’t see his face and you never know his name. The only real element is his voice however that too could have been altered slightly to protect his identity. This reflects the controversial issues surrounding the job type however it is also potentially a way for people to reveal more as they know their answers can’t be directly associated with their identity. If I am to interview people about a personal subject I either need to make them feel completely comfortable and perhaps compromise with the questions, or I could assure that they have privacy and this could allow me to investigate a little bit more forcefully or personally than I might have done without the element of censorship.

Overall there are many different aspects that are successful about this video; I enjoyed watching it but it definitely wasn’t easy, it demanded your full attention. I would like my piece to demand attention in the same way, as it is about a subject I believe is important to consider. I want it to reflect the urgency I convey in my Final Major Project Proposal, as we established in the Phonar module we need to make work that solves a problem rather than just producing work to be pretty. I have evaluated that a nonlinear structure is effective in keeping the attention from the audience and that concealing the concept can add to this effect. Privacy is a notion I really need to address, however I feel it would be incredibly ironic if I produced a video on anonymity and I concealed the identity of those being interviewed. However maybe that irony would be appropriate and it would demonstrate the concept I am trying to reflect; that the online disinhibition effect causes people to become detached from their humanitarian emotions like responsibility and guilt.

Post Photographic Portrait: Process and Reflection

After a series of weekly tasks, this particular task serves as a more substantial project, the brief can be seen below:

The culmination of this module will be the production of a “post-photographic portrait” of Jill Jarman‘s piece for Cello performed by Laura Ritchie

Your decisions throughout  this process should build upon and further develop the work we’ve begun in creative workshop and throughout the lecture series. This process should be evidenced explicitly and succinctly on your blog as well  ( a 500 word reflective summary would do the trick).

To listen to Jill Jarman’s Cello piece click here

The piece itself takes the light from faraway stars and transforms it into a scripted musical piece for the cello. I listened to it to get some inspiration as to what I could do for this task as it could be incorporated in my own piece of work. The music was extremely abstract and sounded to me as an experiment into the sound a cello could make rather than a piece of music designed for the listener to hear and enjoy. I appreciated the experimental nature and it made me want to produce something that would draw attention from the viewer/listener and provoke a response either action or thought-based. Although it was well executed and it’s a really interesting idea I didn’t feel particularly drawn to the piece itself so I started drawing on the ideas from Phonar and tried to apply them to my own current interests.

I took the ‘Post Photographic Portrait’ title and started developing on this idea in relation to the tasks and content we have examined in Phonar. I originally started thinking about producing an image for a blind person made completely of sound as I enjoyed working with sound in the tasks. Then I started thinking of the concept of representation and how I could create an abstract form of representation, drawing on the ideas from Shahidul Alam of using different tools to achieve an outcome. I speculated as to whether I could produce a portrait through different mediums such as sound. The notions of a portrait are constantly changing whereas it used to be strictly a depiction of the individual with fixed elements such as the angle and crop it is now expanding. A portrait has become more about representation than depicting and this is what I wanted to explore in my Post Photographic Portrait.

With an idea in mind I needed to try and visualize the outcome, this meant picking who would be the person represented. I initially thought of producing a self-portrait through the notion of sound by making a soundscape; I would mostly include song, as I am known for singing quite a lot of the time. This idea was interesting to think about however it didn’t quite have the depth I wanted, for me this project was less about trying new techniques and more about creating an informed piece that would encompass the ideology of Phonar.

Eventually my attention was drawn to one of my current habits which is watching YouTube videos by the organisation Rooster Teeth. Their job is to play video games and record their footage to create a video which either informs the viewer how get achievements in campaign style games or give them ideas of what to do in open world type games. The content in particular that I watch comes from Achievement Hunter, which is a subsection of Rooster Teeth and mainly produces videos named ‘Let’s Play’. These videos feature the footage and recorded voices of the Acheivement Hunter community and without ever seeing them; I feel a sense of familiarity through their voices and their verbal interaction. I can identify who is talking and I know the dynamics between each of the employees purely though the audio content of the game.

This concept encouraged me to consider the other traces of the individuals online and whether this archive of inconsequential information could play a part in representation. I collated these ideas and brought them to an apt with Jonathan whereby we decided on the exact nature of the project. The proposal for my Post Photographic Portrait can be seen below:

I am going to challenge the notion of a portrait by attempting to reverse-engineer an image of some the Achievement Hunter individuals that I feel that I have become familiar with over the course of watching their YouTube videos. The concept of this notion is that the digital image is built up of two forms of data, visual data and metadata. This metadata of the image is the element I am interested in for the sake of creating this portrait. In terms of appearance I have not met these individuals therefore I can’t count on the visual element to form my impression, I need use the metadata. One element of the metadata is the voices from their videos; I feel a great deal of familiarity through these voices and by hearing them continuously I have built an impression and perception of these characters. The next step of this project is to explore and obtain the rest of the ‘metadata’ available to me in the form of their online presence, their location, their activity and their movements. My post photographic portraits will be in the form of data visualizations that will come together to form an abstract representation of each Achievement Hunter member.

With my proposal written I then started to think about gathering and collating the inconsequential information. It then became clear that in order to produce an effective piece of work in the remaining time period, I would have to focus my efforts on one individual rather than trying to tackle the group. I decided to choose the founder of the Rooster Teeth and Achievement Hunter company; Geoff Ramsey.

In addition to my proposal, Jonathan gave us the following questions to consider which would help us when tackling the brief:

What’s my problem?

What’s the solution?

What wouldn’t happen if this work wasn’t made?

I found these questions extremely hard to answer initially as I couldn’t think of my project in terms of a problem and a solution. Jonathan explained to us that unless the work we made would work to solve or expose an issue or concept then all we would be producing is ‘decorative work’. We were divided in the class and asked to explain our idea for the Post Photographic Portrait to each other, the listener would take the information given and apply it to the previous questions ready to present back to the group. The idea behind this act was that if your concept could be easily lost in translation from person to person, it would most likely be unachievable through the process of viewing as a final object. This process really helped to finalize my ideas and I was able to formulate my answers to the questions:

What’s my problem?

The problem I want to identify is the relationship between the inconsequential data left by a person online and representation.

What’s the solution?

The solution is to gather all the metadata of a single person from the inconsequential data they have left on the Internet and reverse-engineer a portrait – playing with the notion of a portrait

What wouldn’t happen if this work wasn’t made?

The viewer wouldn’t consider their own online presence and how much inconsequential data is available to the online community. Although the Internet is a great means for communication and is meant to be a positive tool, there can be consequences to leaving trails of fragmented data.

With foundations built in the right direction I began to gather information from each different online avenue. Initially I targeted sources that I am familiar with and that I use on a daily basis such as Facebook and Twitter, from these social media platforms I could find out Geoff’s location and a bit about his likes and interests. With Twitter especially I also discovered the members of Geoff’s family including his wife and daughter, as there are a lot of pictures and tweets about them. I then went on to find informational sources such as his designated Wikipedia page and his own profile page on the Rooster Teeth website. In addition to this I started paying close attention to the audio from the YouTube videos and exported the audio from the ones I felt best represented Geoff, these audio clips would be broken down and reconstructed to form a soundscape.

The initial archive of data can be seen below:

Geoff’s Facebook likes and groups

TempleOfApe MarthaMain ModestMouse Rhianna JayZ Visitors TowTheLine LazerTeam Goliath AchievementHunter SportsNation BurnNotic StatusKill RedVsBlue Deathtraps Battlefield PeopleKillRadio KathleenZueich CaitiWard WillbrooksWildAnimals AmericanAirlines A.JohnBolanger TheFORT GriffonRamsey PostNet Austin360 JoelHeyman NPR Xbox Zeilner Bros BarackObama Gnap!TheatreProject UnicornRampant BleepLabs ImagineThatProductions GearsOfWar Freddlew Dom’sRoosterTeethRelatedPhotos TentBaby RVBGloryDays TroublePuppetTheatreCompany

 

Geoff’s Twitter Hashtags

marriedtoanartist brohemian ItBegins Florence Italy HappyHour stronghands miamiheat2015 WorldCupBrazil2014 veronicamarsmovie embarrassed slowmoguys lovemylife ingoodcompany toocute SeriousBusiness kidsthesedays SXSW emasculated RollTide proudparent proudmoment officallyAmerican GuessTheChest HappyAnniversary luckiestdude jacksjobinjeopardy FatGuyFriday

 

Twitter Data Visualisations and Mapping

http://bluenod.com/user/geofflramsey

http://mentionmapp.com/mm/classic/index.php#user-geofflramsey

Also went to Twitonomy to get data analytics of Geoff’s Twitter Profile:

1 Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.27.19 Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.27.34 Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.28.33

In addition to this I noticed that Geoff featured his unique Xbox ‘gamer tag’ on his Achievement Hunter profile page.

http://achievementhunter.com/geoff

I decided to try and use this piece of information to try and find more about Geoff in relation to his gaming activity so I entered the phrase ‘gamer tag search’ into a search engine and it brought up the site featured below:

http://www.xboxgamertag.com/

http://www.xboxgamertag.com/search/DGgeoff/

This was a surprise to find as it was an example of Xbox sharing the information of their users and allowing it to become public. Not only can you see the point score of the individual but you can also see if they are online and what games they are playing; there is also a history of game play and achievements within those games. Whilst the data doesn’t reveal the identity of the individual there is the apparent issue of data being used in a manner than was unexpected. I certainly didn’t know that as an Xbox user, my data would or could be extracted and displayed on a platform such as this. It raises the questions of the exact terms and conditions an individual agrees to when they sign up to a service that requires personal data, if they don’t read the contract they can be agreeing to anything. The key concept is control in relation to releasing data and whether you can trust that the organisation that receives your data. In the age of free information you must keep in mind that if you are not paying for a service online you are most likely to be the product being bought and sold by third parties.

Once I had collected some data I felt I should start use them to make suitable visual content, for example reason I took the Facebook likes and inputted them into the website ‘Wordle’. This tool allows the user to create a visual collaboration of words and have control over the layout, font and colour. My decision making process for creating this visual outcome can be seen below:

Wordle Process

  • Copied all the hashtags down on paper exactly how they were written then typed them up into the create box
  • Colour: Black red and green because these are the colour scehemes for Rooster Teeth and Achievement Hunter
  • League Gothic – strong but allows expression
  • Layout: Mostly Horizontal

The finished Wordle piece looked like this:

Geoff's Facebook Likes

With an archive of information collected I needed to think about a viable output and whether this would be suitable for the audience I wanted to target. As I wanted to engage with other Internet users it is obvious that my piece of work needs to be digital and easily findable on the Internet; I also want to attract the attention from younger viewers perhaps those interested in the gaming culture as they might be able to recognise where I have found the information therefore it will become more personal to them. The digital interactive tool ThingLink could be a possible tool, I created the sense of a journey with my Alientated Sensory Landscape however there was only a limited sense of control for me in getting the viewers to discover the information in a specific sequence. Although this wasn’t an essential aspect in the Alientated Sensory Landscape task, I wanted to keep the control with the Post Photographic Portrait and lead the viewer on a carefully constructed journey. For this reason I decided on the idea of a blog, as put together effectively, it can be easily navigable and allows a wide range of media to be incorporated such as embedded sound material, video and the ability to include hyperlinks to outside sources. I would be able to create a different page for each piece of content I wanted to display and construct the exact order in which it can be viewed. Although I usually try and make my academic blog as easily navigable as possible with menus and categories for the viewer to sift through, this blog would be an artefact in itself, with a definitive order in which each page can be seen. This journey of travelling through the pages creates the narrative in which the viewer will follow to find more about the person.

I did consider allowing the viewer have some control into exploring about the individual in question however I felt it was important to replicate this loss of control seen once we scatter information across the internet. The viewer would have the choice of entering into this journey however once immersed they would have no control over the information they saw and the order in which they would see it. The only option they would have would to exit the blog; I do not think that the viewer would need to see the whole of the experience to learn something from it therefore even if they did exit it would still raise some questions for them.

However there would be some element of choice in the exploration, one really important aspect for me was giving the viewer the capacity to see each source of information for each page and to learn about each tool used to extract and display different information. However I didn’t want to make it obvious, I wanted the viewer to discover the sources of information for themselves. Therefore I decided to put in links that were harder to find initially but when found would be easy to identify on each page these would redirect the user to another tab, pausing the journey and leaving it waiting for their return or alternatively the viewer could leave the tabs until the end to examine. This achievement of finding the information is also an attempt to keep the viewer engaged and interactive, rather than a bland pattern of just clicking ‘next’.

With an initial blog constructed I then brought it before Matt Johnston in an apt to see whether my idea was translating clearly. He liked the concept however though the viewer needed to be free to navigate through the different aspects by themselves, this greater amount of control would encourage the viewer to engage and interact with the website. The blog needed to be more fluid and I needed to replace the screenshots taken from other websites with data visualisations made from my own tools and with my own colours. We also identified that the Wordles created weren’t extremely effective as they weren’t actually visualising data, and as my research had informed me the viewer will be looking for a the information when presented with this sort of aesthetic. In addition to this he encouraged me to be creative with the personal information and to produce a CV with it as this biographical information wasn’t completely working. However Matt liked the colour scheme, the black, green and white does reference the visual idea of code and he felt the soundscape of Geoff’s voice worked well.

Following this feedback in mind I then started to rework my blog, changing the theme and structure to become more fluid. I also built on the screenshots taken from Twitonomy and made my own data visualisations using an Excel spreadsheet which allows the user to make and customise charts, the new version can be seen below:

Twitter Data 01 copy

With the updated version of my blog completed I needed to rearrange the content to fit the new theme: Spun. This theme features either a static page or displays the latest blog posts; each feature image from the blog post is put into a circle on the page. There was enough space to have ten blog posts without the need for further navigation so I designated the following subjects for each one:

  • Introduction to the Post Photographic Project
  • Biographical Information
  • Avatars
  • Twitter Data
  • Twitter Mapping
  • Soundscape / Voice Actor
  • Vines
  • Instagram
  • Xbox Gamer tag and gaming activity
  • Source of information

This would also be the order in which they would be displayed on the front page, hopefully encouraging the viewer to read the introduction first and the sources last however the choice would still be theirs. I also needed to think carefully about what feature image to use and how it would fit in with the existing colour scheme. Each image selection had to relate to the content of the blog post and also have elements of green, black and white. Once selected I hate to manipulate some of the logos and images in Photoshop to get the colours right or to lay a slight black and white overlay which would make the colourful ones fit in better with the other choices.

With the structure decided I then needed to perfect the content, the following paragraphs detail a short summary of what is in each post, what I used to create it and my intentions and inspiration behind them.

Introduction to the Post Photographic Project

This was simply an extension from the existing content featured in the original blog; although I wanted viewers to draw their own conclusions from the work I felt it was necessary to provide an introduction into what the project was about. However the fluid nature of the updated blog would mean that the viewer could choose to read the blog post or they could miss it out and form their own view on what the project was about. This project for me was an experimentation into representation however it does have the underlying issue about the consequences of inconsequential; although Geoff Ramsey appears to be one of the individuals Fred Ritchin talked about being able to control his own image; other users of the Internet may not have the same knowledge of security.

Biographical Information

I took the ideas from Matt Johnston and attempted to make a file that appeared like it was an official document detailing Geoff’s biographical information. I typed the information into word using the font ‘American Typewriter’ to make it resemble an official piece of text, after that I printed the document out and drew lines through the text that resembled the first part of the address but was in fact just the address of the Rooster Teeth Office. Geoff never discloses his home address online for obvious reasons therefore I wanted it to look like this part had been scrubbed out for security reasons. I then crumpled the page slightly to look like it had been tucked away in a filing cabinet and scanned it back into the computer to make an image file.

Avatars

Following the research avenues given to me by Jonathan and Matt I wanted to reference and take inspiration from the work of Robbie Cooper and include a section on the different avatars that Geoff adopts in order to enter the gaming world. I searched through the YouTube footage from various games to find two defining shots: Geoff’s character viewed from the eyes of another player and the view from Geoff’s character himself. I then put these two together in Photoshop to make the final image, an example of which can be seen below:

Combined 03

As the project draws on the concepts of self representation I felt it was important to examine these alternate representations of Geoff’s self. It is interesting that in some cases the individual chooses to look completely different to how they resemble in real life, sometimes they choose appearances based on experiences and interests in their personal life, for example Geoff’s Minecraft avatar is a reference to the RedVsBlue character Grif for which he provided the voice.

Twitter Data

The ability of websites such as Twittonomy and HootSuite to analyse and display a user’s activity is somewhat unnerving. It references the thorough investigations the secret service might conduct to find specific information on a person of interest. It highlights the fact that many third parties will pay to access the inconsequential information you share online and displayed in this format it can tell a completely stranger a lot about your personal habits. I usually flick through Twitter before bed and perhaps most of my activity happens at that point; although I am clearly happy for my followers to know this information I am not so comfortable about this information being there for any Internet user to examine. As referenced in the blog post earlier I had to change the appearance of the Twitter I had gathered, however I feel the new updated visual outcome is much more suited to the environment in which it had been placed and it resembles a piece of my own work rather than snatched data.

Twitter Mapping

This identifies with the same concept as the Twitter Data; however websites such as BlueNod actually allow the investigator to examine the different connections the Twitter user makes; the terminology to describe this is Associate Mapping. It is a remarkable piece of software however I can’t help but thinking that people could find a lot about my location and my habits through other users that don’t have the same privacy settings as me. I chose to complete a screen recording because it wasn’t possible to embed the software in the space of the blog and if the viewer didn’t have a Twitter account, they wouldn’t be able to access this website for themselves and see the connections. I took advantage of the technology on offer and used it to my advantage, I didn’t want my blog to appear elitist by only including content that could be accessed by Internet users that are involved with social media platforms, this would also mean I remove my capability to access different audiences.

Soundscape / Voice Actor

Hearing Geoff and the other member of Achievement Hunter was the catalyst for this project as I really felt I knew them by hearing their friendship dynamic and their characteristics. This idea that someone could be represented through ‘data’ such as their voice and not just their physical appearance was a really interesting concept for me and draws on the idea of Phonar where as a photographer we need to consider the use of sound in digital projects. In some aspects, including different elements such as the written word, images, video and sound it would allow me to access the different kinds of learners. Some people engage more with sound and others with pictorial examples; by expanding across different mediums I have increased my capacity to access and engage with different audiences; a concept that Marcus Bleasdale and Aaron Huey have used to great effect.

Vines

Vine was a very new social media platform to me however it struck me as strange when I saw that a lot of Geoff’s Vines featured his wife and young daughter. Although this would be typical of a normal Vine user, Geoff Ramsey has a huge fan base on the Internet due to the popularity of those videos and sometimes Internet users take advantage of the anonymity of online spaces to exploit content such as this. There will be people that look at children on the Internet in a darker light and it was discomforting for me to see that their were lots of videos of a young child online with no security around them other than to disclose his exact location. Regardless of the physical security of his child, Geoff has actually exposed her to virtual exploitation. Perhaps this darker side of the project would encourage my audience to consider their virtual safety as Internet users in addition to their physical safety.

Instagram

Geoff Ramsey actually served in the US Army as a photographer and his involvement in this social media platform really expresses that. There is a wealth of photographs that can actually inform the viewer a great deal about Geoff that he perhaps doesn’t disclose in other areas of digital space for example it is clear that he and his wife have cooking as a hobby as there are a lot of images of food preparation. However similar to that in the previous section, there are quite a lot of images of his daughter and although the location is secret there is still that potential for a user of the Internet to extract this image and claim ownership of the content to do what they would like with it.

Xbox Gamer tag and gaming activity

As I explained previous in my blog post, I was surprised to come across a range of websites that would enable the searcher to find out about the user of each individual GamerTag and find out their gaming activity. Although this information wouldn’t disclose any real important data such as the location of the Xbox or the real name of the individual, it was still unnerving to find that anyone could be tracking and following my progress as I played Xbox games. I tried to replicate this ‘live stream’ idea by finding a way to embed content associated with the games into my blog. I liked the idea of the Vine videos playing content on loop and wanted some way create a file with content of this nature. I then remembered a previous Phonar session where Jonathan explained that a previous Phonar student had used ‘GIFs’ to portray their content, this would be perfect for my needs. I used content from the YouTube videos to try and make GIFs of Geoff playing the game in question and paired it with the information featured on these GamerTag websites. GIFs are very popular across the Internet on platforms such as Reddit and Tumblr which are mostly used by a younger audience. It is the young audience using social media platforms that I am keen to engage with as some of them will have the most to learn about online security and actually would be the ones most at risk; especially with the lowering age in which a user can sign up for social media and the capability for the individual to lie about their age.

Source of information

I felt it was really important to reveal where the information for each different section came from as this would potentially highlight and/or expose platforms in which the viewers might have their own information displayed. I also wanted to show which tools were used to create information such as the Twitter Connections and the Twitter Analysis so that people could see where an Internet user could extract this information. It was also to explain that although I feel like I know this person and it is certainly easy to build an impression and representation on them online, I have actually never met them therefore I can’t consider myself as a friend of his. The term ‘friend’ in relation to online activity has a completely connotation to that of physical communication; for example I went through the process of removing people linked to me on my social media platforms that I would actually never speak to again and probably wouldn’t go out of my way to communicate with them if I saw them in person. The concept of representation and relationships on the Internet are two aspects closely interlinked and it is worth considered in relation to the inconsequential information that we share. Could an anonymous user trick you into thinking that they had met you and engaged with you purely from this inconsequential data, and in extension could a computer build up a realistic impression of you from the content shared online?

Finally with all the content sorted I then added in an extra menu at the top of the blog which categorised the different posts into the sections: Look, Watch, Read and Listen. This would enable the viewer to choose which medium they wanted to engage with if they didn’t want to interact with all of the content. This also referenced the structure of the website Matt Johnston showered me where the viewer could choose which content to engage with and create their own narrative of discovery.

The completed version of my blog can be seen by following the link below:

http://rebeccawoodallpostphotographicportrait.wordpress.com/

Considering the distribution for my finished piece was also an extremely important aspect of the project itself, practitioners such as Marcus Bleasdale and Fred Ritchin have identified that the photographer role has extended to become a publisher. In response I have made sure to examine the audience that I want to engage with this piece and consider the best methods available to me in order to distribute it. Twitter will be a useful tool in getting the final output seen by a range of digital users as I can tweet a link to it and add in different kinds of hash tags. It would be foolish to only use the Phonar hash tag, as Marcus Bleasdale said in his interview with Phonar I would be ‘preaching to the converted’. Many of the people involved in Phonar already know the issues involved with consequential data so this project might be of interest with them however it won’t be a real journey of revelation and discovery for them. However I won’t rule out using the Phonar hash tag because if individuals like my work they can circulate it to the right channels in which people could stand to learn from it. I want to spread it across social media platforms and hopefully let it be shared by those who find it interesting and engaging however even if they do not share it I would hope that they are considering the issues addressed.

An extension to this Post Photographic Project would be to reproduce the content in different forms, perhaps collaborating with professionals in different mediums to engage with a different demographic. For example I could see if I could create an installation piece where the viewer physically moves through a space of built up of virtual content. The interactive element would be transformed and projected into the format of an exhibition meaning that the viewer could choose to move through the space as they wish, replicating the fluidity of the blog structure. The use of different content such as sound, video and images would also work to create an immersive reality; it would actually be really interesting to see how this physical set up would work in order to create a feeling of familiarity with the character. As Fred Ritchin suggested, the greatest reward and effect comes from face-to-face communication and sharing the same physical space as another. This installation would fall partway between physically meeting the individual in question and my original blog piece as it takes these virtual elements but presents them physically.

This project has been extremely engaging and rewarding and has if anything provoked more issues that need to be examined in relation with my existing idea of representation. Above all I have discovered that the practise of photography has been expanded and the ‘photographer’ now encompasses a multitude of different approaches to producing photographic content. Digital technology has meant that sound and video can now be used to great effective either with or actually to actually replace the image. As Fred Ritchin explained, photography is now in ‘dialogue’ with video and the two techniques are so closely interlinked with the capacity to make a ‘photofilm’ or to take a ‘still’ from a moving image piece. The digital revolution has meant that most the content seen in today’s culture is viewed from a screen; and where there is a screen there is nearly always the capacity for sound. It is because of these key concepts and issues that provoked me to explore and produce content from each different outlet, although in this case the finished product is still in it’s very early stages open to much more development. I have found myself slightly limited in my own capabilities and the structure of commerce as I could have collaborated with a web designer or paid for a better template that would have perhaps pushed my blog past it’s existing parameters. This is definitely a key aspect to consider in the future as collaboration has been proven to produce some amazing results in the case of Marcus Bleasdale. I feel I have been able to research and examine the issues involved with this project and produce a suitable outcome for the intended audiences.

Phonar Task: Alientated Sensory Mashup

The Phonar tasks had begun with the journey to work/school and now we were progressing to the weekly tasks, the first of these is the Alienated Sensory Mashup Task. The brief for this can be seen below:

“Working in pairs if possible name yourselves “Eyes” and “Ears”. Ears is equipped with sound recording equipment (your phone will be more than adequate) and blindfolded. Eyes will lead Ears on a guided journey through a range of different environments. Ears will dictate the pace of the journey and say when they want to stop and make dedicated “sound-mark” recordings.

If you have to work alone then perhaps consider choosing an environment in which you can remain motionless with your eyes closed for several minutes. As you do so your sense of hearing will improve and you will begin to focus in on sounds that previously you’d of missed. Now search out these sounds with your recorder and build up a sound-scape of them.

For the photography aspect investigate the same environment as a photographer, responding solely to what you see.

At the end of the journey Eyes repeats the route (wearing ear-defenders/plugs) responding to the visual stimuli.

You should end up with a landscape story and a soundscape story.”

I paired myself with Jess Oakes and we loaned a Canon 5DII and an Edirol from the Media Loan Shop and started on our journey; Jess was the ears (blindfolded) and I was the eyes. We started our Journey at the Ellen Terry Building and worked our way up the road and into the Herbert Gallery to explore a different sound quality, we then worked our way back to our house in Stoke and then branched out further to a park. Jess would stop when she wanted to make a sound recording and I would look around my environment and take a photograph; I tried to ignore all of the sound and concentrate solely on what inspired me visually. As a result of our efforts we ended up with a soundscape put together by Jess and a set of photographs edited by me, both of which can be found below:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/beckywoodall/sets/72157648464382406/

We brought these separate pieces to the next Phonar session as it was our impression that we would be sharing the pieces and mashing them up in the session however it seemed most of the other participants in Phonar had created a collaborative piece with the sound and images together. In response to this I took the audio files and the images and created my own piece, with some exclusions as I wanted the piece to be short and effective. My narrative included the journey from the Ellen Terry to the Herbert and back to the house, it didn’t include the visit to the park as I felt the arrival at the house was a good punctuation stop in the piece.

My finished video piece can be seen below:

As a first task it was great at forcing us to consider the element of sound in relation to our photography; although I was the one responsible for the images when putting the piece together I was evident that sound and images together is highly effective. However it struck me that I could create something different with this piece building on the ideas of Phonar. I wanted the viewer to make a journey and interact with the content rather than just have it dictated to them however I still wanted to maintain some control because I wanted them to follow the journey that I made rather than create their own. In the digital media module last year I discovered an online tool that introduces interactivity in the image called ThingLink. I started thinking about how I could use ThingLink to produce an interactive image that would depict the journey I made and offer sound bites for each location.

To start with, I thought about the layout of the image and what I could do visually that would both engage the viewer and make it easy to navigate. I thought about laying the images out in a grid in one space and numbering them however some of the images were portrait and some of them landscape so they wouldn’t tesselate together effectively. I still wanted all the images to be in one space so I continued to look at the images and think how they could be used. Eventually I made a file in Photoshop that was really tall in height however the width was that of one of the landscape photographs. It featured a black background so that when I started putting images in, the blank space would be filled with black. I chose black over white as I feel white relates more to a slideshow or an official document and black is quite a powerful but soft colour that works to draw the reader in. I then placed the images into this file, placing each image under the last to make a ladder of images. This would still allow me to control the order in which the images were seen however the viewer could scroll down at their own pace and make the journey last as long as they wanted to. I had to resize the file before uploading it to ThingLink as each photograph amounted to a file that was too big to upload. Once uploaded I had an image file to work with.

Next I needed the sound, I had already worked with the sound file Jess made initially to make my video, cutting it up and marking it out to make the presentation slightly shorter. However in this instance I wanted to break the sound file down into the different sections and create different sound bites to upload to SoundCloud and link to the image uploaded to ThingLink through the tag function. These individual sound sections could be slightly longer than I edited them in the video to give the listener a bit more incite into the environment. I felt slightly that the images and sounds were rushed in the video in order to make it short as some of the responses we saw in the session were too long. In this instance however the viewer would have control to listen to as much or as little of the sound recording as they wished, they could even just choose to look at the images and not engage with the sound at all. I made the sound clips in Premiere Pro and exported them as an audio file however I needed to covert them into mp3 format before uploading them to SoundCloud as there was an issue with the size or file type in it’s original form.

With both the image and sound files uploaded to the appropriate platforms I could start creating the interactivity element in ThingLink. To add interactivity into a ThingLink image, you must add in a ‘tag’, this can link to a outside platform such as SoundCloud, YouTube or Flickr and bring in another aspect such as sound or video. It could even be a link to the development behind the image in case the viewer wanted to know more. Commercial users of ThingLink use the tags to link to the product on their own website for example Ikea presents a photograph of a bedroom space and tags the different elements such as the bed and lights, these tags link to the relevant product on their website. In this instance I used the tags to link to the content I had uploaded to Soundcloud, the process can be seen below:

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 16.23.12

You can edit the tag and paste in the url of the content that you want to link to…

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 16.23.26

 

You can also choose the tag appearance, there are ones that resemble the Twitter and Facebook icons if you want the viewer to know it links to social media. I chose the red ‘play button’ tag as it is a universal sign that there is content to be activated to play, I also chose red as it would stand out more and it relates to the colour of YouTube which people associate with sound and video.

After adding all the tags I saved the ThingLink image and viewed it as an outside to test that the links were working properly because sometimes the content doesn’t link correctly straight away. I made one minor change to fix the link in the second image before republishing it as a finished image which can be seen below:

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/588743870460723200

Reflections:

I really enjoyed this task as a starter to Phonar and I think I understood the notion of it: to reengage with sound as a tool and rediscover how effective it can be in storytelling. The concept behind Phonar is that the image has transferred from the physical print to a screen and most screens have the capacity to issue sound therefore we must be aware that the work we produce might need this aspect to become effective. In addition to this is the opportunity to add in interact elements that will really engage the viewer and ultimately improve their experience in viewing an image. Because we have lost that physicality of the print we need to add in another element and interactivity, sound or moving image could be this replacement. I am pleased with my final ThingLink image because I feel I have taken the task further and used previous research to break the boundaries and produce a response that is unlike the rest of the responses I saw in the Phonar class. I like the way it references the concepts of Phonar in terms of including interactivity and sound, I also like the way that it allows the viewer to have some element of control in their experience of viewing the images and listening to the sound.