written professional communication

Composing Digital Media: The Art of Missing Information

University of Pittsburgh | Fall 2014 | T/TH 11-12:15pm | trisha campbell

 

about | goals | materials | policies | schedule | projects | resources | blog | students

 

Trisha Campbell
tnc17@pitt.edu
office: CL 436
hours: T/TH 1-3pm
or happily by appointment


Lab Hours
Tuesdays: 2-6pm (**from 4-6p will not be staffed by a TA, but the lab will be open)
Thursdays: 2-6pm (**from 4-6p will not be staffed by a TA, but the lab will be open)
Fridays: 3-5pm
Saturday and Sundays: 12-4pm

All other hours are staffed by a TA


dij-i-tl

"I believe digital capture is about choosing to live, being brave. Looking is an act of courage. It's terrifying. It's possible to see too much, to witness things that we cannot hold. To record is to carry a burden, to surrender to beauty. I will never be powerful enough to save everyone."

--Laurel Nakadate

"I wish I could have documented all of these moments of my youth. Of course, the memories are always with me, but it would be so amazing to have contact sheets with real images from these extraordinary years."

--Mary Ellen Mark

"The desire to photograph and capture the whole world, all of it, is not an attempt to recover or create memories. It is a need to affirm experience as expressible, if not comprehensible, and to create an aura of talismanic protection."

--Lyle Rexer

“The archive has always been a pledge, and like every pledge [gage], a token of the future. To put it more trivially: what is no longer archived in the same way is no longer lived in the same way”

--Derrida, Archive Fever

This class begins with the idea of the missing photograph: the picture that was not taken, the story never recorded, the history failed. These are the moments of capture that could not or did not happen. Sometimes these moments are unrepresentable. Yet the reasons behind missing photos, documents, and stories are complex and various. There are pictures that were almost taken but then abandoned, videos that were prevented from being taken, documents that might have been recorded but then were renounced, pictures that were missed and became memories before they could be taken, and of course pictures that were taken of one thing and were really about something entirely different that could not be shown directly.

Digital media offers us the utter ability to document, capture, archive, photograph, produce, circulate, share, and "like" all kinds of stories, realities, and histories. This class will explore the art of missing information through our own intentional acts of composition -- our own pieces of media -- and thus work to construct new and different knowledge along the way. The act of making media is a productive act--it makes. And so as we consider each of our projects in this class, we will also consider what is missing or un-documented, and how we can lend voice to the missing. Our work will be to find and make seeable, hearable, and sayable parts of the world that have thus far been silenced. As we explore the art of missing information, we will also consider the role of "the archive" and digital media, rhetoric, affect and aesthetics. But: we must be careful and aware of this drive to document. Do all stories need to be documented? What do we make of our drive to document? Is the urge to document an act of appropriation? We will be reflective throughout the class on this process of composing and considering the art of missing information.

On the technical side, we will learn a range of critical media software for composing digitally and dynamically including web-authoring languages (HTML5, CSS3), text, sound editing, image editing, and video editing in proprietary and open-source software.

This class is fast-paced, and at times, very difficult. We take as our central pedagogy a DIY ethic, which means do-it-yourself. I will guide you through much of the software, but you will be responsible for advancing your knowledge, for making something worthwhile, and becoming an amateur digital composer.

WHY DIY

Digital technologies have made new forms of culture and communication. These forms rely on software, computation, and design. In this course, I aim to help you become producers of digital media and not merely consumers. This means you have to acquire digital literacy, which takes practice, intense thought, and long hours outside of our class. This also means you have to master the ability to problem solve and debug as part of your practice. In this way, students not only learn digital media, but they learn how to learn digital media and the logic of this new literacy.

 

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Course Goals

the idea of practice-based research, long integrated into the sciences, is relatively new to the humanities. the work of making--producing something that requires long hours, intense thought, and considerable technical skill--has significant implications that go beyond the crafting of words. involved are embodied interactions with digital technologies, frequent testing of code and other functionalities that results in reworking and correcting, and dynamic, ongoing discussions with collaborators to get it right."

-- n. katherine hayles, how we think: digital media and contemporary technogenesis

1) Become fluent in the practices and theories of digital media. To this end, you will learn to read and write in the language of digital media. This means becoming fluent in image, sound, moving images, html, css, animations and word-image relationships. We will ask not only what does this media mean, but how does it work and what feeling(s) does it evoke.

2) Begin thinking about the relationship between composing and producing media and composing and producing new knowledge and information.

3) Begin thinking about media from a rhetorical and affective perspective. This class will teach you about the rhetorical situation, available means of persuasion, exigence, kairos, and how to analyze a media text rhetorically, while also producing a media text using the productive framework of rhetoric. Along with rhetoric, we will also consider the affect of media--that is, what emotions, both subtle and overt--do different media attempt to make its audience feel, and how does it work to accomplish this feeling.

4) Learn to learn. Digital media is dynamic and constantly changing, so we must learn to learn its logics and methods. This is the DIY aspect of the course. As media changes, we must learn to change with it, advancing your literacy as it advances. This requires hours of time and focused concentration. We must be constantly looking for ways to speak fluidly with our machines.

 

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Materials

 

Texts

There is no required textbook for this class. Instead, we will be reading a combination of articles (both academic and popular), book chapters, podcasts, videos, websites, etc, to help us think about different aspects of digtial media and the art of missing information. Readings will be posted online on the course schedule or in Courseweb.

We will also spend a great deal of time discussing and analyzing examples of the "texts" and media you are producing. Some of the "texts" we discuss will be examples from outside of our class, but others will be the "texts" of your classmates. When we workshop your writing/media in class, it will be with an eye toward how the text in question takes up the demands of rhetoric of the piece, and we will discuss potential areas for revision along these lines. Just know in advance that we will be looking as a class at everyone’s writing/media at some point during the semester, and that I expect criticism to be careful (full of care) constructive—that is, to be critical, but respectful.

Web Accounts & Technology

You will need access to the Adobe Creative Suit. I guarantee that we will use the following applications: Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Soundbooth (CS5) or Audition (CS5.5/CS6), Premiere Pro, Flash, and Media Encoder. Version CS5 is installed on the computers in the CL 435 lab and will be available for student use during scheduled weekly lab hours. If (1) you have difficulty making it to lab hours, (2) you would like increased flexibility in your workflow, or (3) you plan to continue doing digital media production in the future, I would recommend you consider purchasing this software through the new creative cloud. For $19.99/month, you can "rent" the software for our class and all the design software you could ever want.

USB DRIVE / PORTABLE EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE (16G)

This USB drive should be used exclusively for this course for backing up project files, working from the CL 435 computers during class and lab hours, and handing in midterm and final projects. Please rename the drive with your last name.

HEADPHONES

You are required to provide your own set of headphones or earbuds for use with the iMacs during in-class workshops and screenings. Please bring these to every class.

ACCESS TO A MICROPHONE / DIGITAL AUDIO RECORDING DEVICE

You will need access to a basic microphone for digital audio recording. Radio Shack sells a very inexpensive clip-on mic that works well, and many iPod earbuds can also be used as microphones. You may use cell phones or the built-in microphone available on most computers, but they will produce poor sound quality and are not recommended. Whatever you choose, make sure it is compatible with your recording device. (Please note: The Macs in the lab require a USB microphone or adaptor). I also have 3 microphones I can checkout to you.

ACCESS TO A DIGITAL STILL AND VIDEO CAMERAS

With instructor permission, students may check out high quality digital still and video cameras from CIDDE for a three-day period or from me. Whatever camera you use (especially if you borrow a video camera), make sure that you have the software to access the image files and download them to your computer or USB.

WEB ACCOUNTS

In order to participate in course communication and post your media projects to the web, you will need to sign up for free accounts with Twitter,WordPressSoundCloud, and Vimeo.

You will also need a website host. I use bluehost.com. but x10hosting is free and will work fine for our class.

RESOURCE PAGE

Here is a list of digital media resources

 

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Policies

GRADING

Blogs: 12 total | (graded for quality, thoughtfulness, and polish): 2pts per post = 24 points possible
Video Portrait of classmate + Reflection: 14 points
Recovery + Reflection: 14 points
Performative Sound Piece + Reflection: 14 points
Final Remediation + Reflection: 14 points
Final Website (as portfolio): 10 points
In-class participation (including peer review): 10 points
TOTAL: 100 points

A = 92 – 100 points 
A- = 90 – 92 points
B+ = 88 – 89 points
B = 83 – 87 points
B- = 80 – 82 points
C+ = 78 – 79 points
C = 73 – 77 points
C- = 70 – 72 points
D = 60 – 69 points
F = below 60 points  

**I will give pop quizes from time-to-time. Do the reading!

ATTENDANCE

Your attendance is mandatory.

Regular attendance in this course is required. If you miss more than3 class meetings, you will not pass the course.

It is your responsibility to get the assignments, class notes, and course changes from a classmate if you do miss a class. It is also your responsibility to complete the missing work. In-class work cannot be made up.

I understand that things happen and you may need to miss a class because you’re sick, you’ve missed your flight back to campus, or you have pressing personal or family issues. The policy above allows for such absences without penalty. If you need to be absent for some extraordinary reason—because of a severe accident or illness, a family emergency or death, a religious holiday or jury duty—please let me know, and we will work something out. For such absences, either prior notification or subsequent documentation will be required.

LATE WORK

I will not accept late work.

Technology Policy

I will ask that on our designated "discussion" days (or if I indicate we are having a discussion), you don't even touch that pretty machine--no logging in, no touching its tempting keyboard, etc. If you do fall to temptation, I will mark you absent for the day. It is imperative for you to be fully present in each moment of our course. If you're finding this difficult, you might think about why technology is so tempting and see if you can give it up for a week!

There will be designated "studio" days for you to engage the machine--not to worry.

No phones or iPods either unless I specify otherwise.
 

PARTICIPATION

There are many ways to participate in class. The most obvious one is to contribute substantially to discussion every day, and I do expect that for most people in class, this will be the case. I expect you to speak at least once each class and to respectfully listen to me and your classmates during discussions. Your phones will be off. It might help you to think of this as a casual business meeting where you’re hoping to network with colleagues and impress your boss. I reserve the right to mark you absent if you don’t follow these guidelines. Participating in class also means speaking up in small group discussions and workshops, listening and taking notes attentively, and so on. If you are a quiet student and would like to talk to me about strategies for speaking up in class, please do so! I’m happy to help however I can.

Simply being present in class does not guarantee a strong participation grade (in fact, attending and occasionally contributing to discussion is equivalent to a C participation grade), but attentively contributing to our class in the ways I mentioned above, both in-person and online, does. Similarly, being inattentive or disruptive (doing other work or texting in class) or tardy will hurt your participation grade. If I see you doing other work or using your cell phone in class, I will make a note of this and your participation for that day will be marked down. I will not call you out on this in class—it is your responsibility to pay attention to the work we are doing together every Tuesday and Thursday.

ACADEMIC INTEGRITY

All work must be composed in accordance with course instruction and guidelines regarding copyright, educational Fair Use, and Creative Commons licensing practices.

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. All instances of plagiarism will result in an automatic “0” on the assignment, a full revision without credit, and a report to the Dean. For more information, see the Pitt policy on academic integrity.

 

DISABILITIES

If you are a student with a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and Disability Resources and Services (140 William Pitt Union | 412-648-7890 | (tty) 412-383-7355) as early as possible in the term. Doctors will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.

Other Services

The following free services are among those available to help students who are struggling academically or personally:

 

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SCHEDULE

Week 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | finals

WEEK 1

 

26 Aug | Course Introduction

In-class assignment: write about a picture not taken in your life
Begin Watching RIP: A REMIX Manifesto (in class)

DUE:

Sign up as an author on the class blog (send me an email)

28 Aug | Discussion

 

Finish watching RIP: A Remix Manifesto
Go over project #1| assign partners
Read over all materials on the course website and take note of any questions

DUE:


Blog Post #1 (due by Wednesday at 11pm)
Read: The Rhetorical Toolbox (on courseweb)
Read: Archive Fever (on courseweb)
Read: "How Documentary Became the Most Exciting Kind of Filmmaking"
Read: Misty Keasler's picture not taken

 

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WEEK 2 | VIDEO PORTRAITS

 

2 Sept | Discussion | Thinking about the Archive

 

DUE:

ReadAbout the Archive
Read: "The Role of Archives in the Creation of Memory"
Blog Post #2 (due by 11pm on Monday night)
Read: Erika Larsen's picture not taken

 

4 Sept | Studio | Begin Adobe Premier Pro | workshop proposals

 

DUE:

Watch: Amar (All Great Achievements Require Time) / A Brief History of John Baledessari / Odysseus’ Gambit 
Watch: Every Runner has a reason
Watch: Delivery
Watch: Charlie 
Watch tutorials: Shooting Basics / Framing and Composition / Visual Grammar
Video Portrait of another classmate - Proposal (uploaded to courseweb + 3 hard copies to class)

 

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WEEK 3 | VIDEO PORTRAIT

 

9 Sept | Studio | Workshop Storyboards

 

DUE:

Blog Post #3: Video Portrait rhetorical and affective analysis

Watch Premiere Tutorials  (CS5)GS-01 / GS-02 / GS-03 / GS-04 / GS-05 / GS-06


11 Sept | Studio

DUE:

Video Portrait – Storyboard (2 paper copies to class)
Read about Storyboards - (Click here for a storyboard template - optional
Watch: How to create a storyboard

Read: Laurel Nakadate's picture not taken
Bring raw footage you've shot to class on your USB
Watch Premiere Tutorials  (CS5)GS-07 / GS-08 / GS-09
and Working with Keyframes / Advanced Keyframes / Audio Editing Basics for Premiere & Soundbooth

 

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WEEK 4 | VIDEO PORTRAITS

 

16 Sept | Workshop: Video Portraits | Be ready!

 

DUE:

Be prepared to workshop your draft. I will blindly choose 3-5 for workshopping!
Video Portrait - Export your video-in-progress and upload to Vimeo (put link on class blog) . These are rough drafts for workshopping.

18 Sept | No Class

Continue revising and editing video portraits | Go to lab hours!

DUE:

Blog Post #4: DIY Video Production 

 

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WEEK 5 | BEGIN RECOVERY STORY

 

23 Sept | Discussion | Begin Recovery Story

Preview 3 portraits; free write for recovery story
Watch: Ira Glass on Storytelling
Watch: Why we tell stories

DUE:

Read: Alex Webb's picture not taken

Read: "Top 10 Photography Composition Rules" and "The Photo Essay: Give It Your Best Shot"

Join the class Flickr group

 

25 Sept | Workshop Proposals | Analyze images

Begin Pigeon body + partner's head assignment
Image analysis

DUE:

View: This is what it looks like at the center of America
View: Paradise, Paved
View: The People you meet at Mcdonalds
View: What Hadn’t Happened

View photo essays:"The Ruins of Detroit" | "Where the Children Sleep" | "Remembering Hardware"
Recovery story Proposal (uploaded to courseweb + 2 hard copies to class); revisit writings we did on the first day of class for ideas.
Blog Post #5: Image Analysis of one of the photo stories (due by Wednesday at 11pm)



DUE FRIDAY 9/26! Video Portrait– Final video (uploaded to Vimeo and embedded in class blog, reflection turned into courseweb w/ link)

 

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WEEK 6 | RECOVERY STORY

 

30 Sept | Studio Photoshop | Word + Image relationships

 

DUE:

Read: McCloud "Show and Tell" (on courseweb)
Pigeon body + partner's head assignment (to class blog)

Recovery Story – Shoot  or bring at least 15 possible photos – post on class Flickr group + bring on USB drive
Watch Photoshop Tutorials (CS4)Getting Started 02 / 03 / 04 / 05 / 06 / 08 / 09 /10 / 11and (CS5)GS-05 / GS-06 / GS-07 / Photo Effects / Fine-Tuning Filters / + 2 more of your choice

 

2 Oct | Studio HTML | Purchase or find a host | Adobe Creative Cloud

 

DUE:

Blog Post #6: DIY Photo Editing 
Complete HTMLDog HTML Beginner Tutorial and W3Schools: HTML Basic Tutorial and HTML5 Tutorial
Watch Dreamweaver Tutorials (CS4)Getting Started 01 and (CS5)GS-01 / GS-03 / GS-04 / GS-05 / GS-06 
Purchase or find a host

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WEEK 7 | WEB DESIGN | RECOVERY STORY

 

7 Oct | Studio CSS

 

DUE:

Blog Post #7: Web Design Analysis



 

9 Oct | Web Design | Studio | Creativist

 

DUE:

Website – First two (ugly) fully-functional pages online (index and photo page) with text, link, and images, complete with external CSS.
Sign up for Creativist-- Begin converting your recovery story photos + words into the Creativist interface.

There will be studio time for photo editing in class!

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WEEK 8 | WEB DESIGN

 

14 Oct | No Class | Fall break

Play with your recovery project in the Creativist interface

16 Oct | Studio HTML/CSS & Creativist

 

DUE:

Website – Rough layout of two pages with use of dynamic CSS (in HTML5 with external CSS stylesheet) + a link called Recovery Story
Recovery Story– Rough Photo sequence posted in Creativist interface + words (fully edited and optimized images, posted in order)

Familiarize yourself with the Fair Use Doctrine
Watch “Lawrence Lessig on laws that strangle creativity”
Read from Colors on the Web: Color Theory (ALL menu items)
W3Schools CSS3 Tutorial


 

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WEEK 9

 

21 Oct | Workshop

 

DUE:

In-class | Workshopping of recovery stories! Be ready! These should be fully layed out with words and intro in the Creativist interface.

23 Oct | Workshop

 

DUE:

In-class | Be ready to workshop your recovery stories! These should be fully layed out with words and intro in the Creativist interface.

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WEEK 10

 

28 Oct | Preview Recovery Stories | Share reflections

 

DUE:

Recovery Story– Final sequence + text formatted "published to web" in Creativist + a link on your website, written reflection in courseweb
Select and embed a Creative Commons License in your website

 

30 Oct | Begin Performative Sound Project

 

DUE:

BlogPost #8: DIY Web Design
Final Design Mockup (three pages + color scheme / fonts / image ideas) - bring to class!
Read "Record Your Own Audio Documentary" (David Isay)
Read: Sylvia Plachy's picture not taken
Listen: Ira Glass on Storytelling, Part 1

 

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WEEK 11

 

4 Nov | Studio Audacity

 

Learn Audacity in class

 

DUE:

BlogPost #9: Audio Documentary Analysis 
LISTEN: Radiolab: Behind the Scenes 
LISTEN: This American Life--Superpowers!
LISTEN: Lament for Joe Hall
Listen: Ira Glass on Storytelling, Part 2



 

6 Nov | Studio

 

DUE:

Website – Progress on design implementation
Read: Original Spin
Listen: Ira Glass on Storytelling, part 3 and part 4

Performative sound piece : Proposal (upload to courseweb + 3 hard copies to class)

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WEEK 12

 

11 Nov | Writing for the Ear | Workshop scripts

 

DUE:

Read about "Writing for the Ear": Basic Tips and Geoffrey Nunberg's Principles
Performative Sound Piece– Script and Outline (3 hard copies to class + upload to courseweb)
 

 

13 Nov | Studio Time

 

DUE:

Performative Sound piece studio day– Bring recordings to class on USB drive

Blog Post #10: DIY Audio Editing

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WEEK 13 | REMEDIATION or REVISION

 

18 Nov | Begin Remediation | Discuss: The Art and Politics of Remix

 

DUE:

Read Rhythm Science (on courseweb pg 1-20)
Workshopping Performative Sound piece--Roughcuts. BE PREPARED to workshop!!

20 Nov | Workshop Remediation or Revision Proposal

Watch: Remix Manifesto

DUE:

Remediation / Revision– proposal for possible concept (300 words - 1 paper copy to class + Upload to
 courseweb)


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WEEK 14

 

25 Nov | Open Studio Time

 

DUE:

 

Performative sound piece– Final Project  (SoundCloud embed in website + reflection in courseweb by midnight on Tuesday)
Read: Jamel Shabazz's picture not taken

 

27 Nov | No class | Thanksgiving break

 

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WEEK 15

 

2 Dec | Open Studio Time | remediation/revision projects

wrap-up
blog post #11: stick a spork in it (bring your post to class!)

 

4 Dec | studio (11am to 12:30pm) | Last day of class

Final Showcase (by Instructor nomination) | DECEMBER 5TH AT 3-5PM| CL 435

 

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FINALS WEEK

 

11 Dec | Re-mix/Re-mediation/Re-vision + Reflection due to courseweb along with Semester video Reflections directed to me + future students (due to courseweb, host on vimeo) and final website and its full archive due by midnight | It should be beautiful!


Thank you!

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Course Projects in detail

Blog Posts & Reflections | Project 1 | Project 2 | Project 3 | Website & Final Project



Blogging Project Guidelines

Blog Guidelines
Throughout the term, you will be asked to compose two different kinds of blog posts—critical blog posts and DIY blog posts. The requirements are different for each of them.

These are always due by 11pm the night before our class. 

Critical Blog Posts: should engage with one or more of the media objects we are viewing / listening to / interacting with for the assigned class period, providing a detailed “reading” of the object’s specific compositional elements and how you see them working toward particular rhetorical or aesthetic ends.

  • 1) Take up the prompt loosely as a point of departure.
  • 2) Refer to specific examples from the text under examination. Do "close-reading."
  • 3) Pose at least one question for class discussion.
  • 4) Be a minimum of 300 words.
  • 5) Include a descriptive title and relevant tags for navigation and indexing.
  • 6) Must be proofread and spell-checked.

DIY Blog Posts: (no prompts provided) should provide practical instruction on a particular skill or technique that is not covered by the in-class studio instruction or assigned tutorials but that might be useful for other students in the course. DIY posts should include relevant images (screenshots, etc.) and links to additional web resources or tutorials, as needed.

Blog posts are due by 11pm the night before we discuss the text in class. Before coming to class, I expect you to review the blog and post a brief response to at least one other student’s post.
Please note: We will also be using the blog as a space to submit and share course projects.

Commenting:

In addition to your weekly posts, you will be commenting on your classmates’ posts. These comments are due Fridays by 9 PM. Comments should be substantive, and indicate that you’ve read and considered the writer’s post carefully. Ask questions. Further the discussion. Politely disagree with the writer. The goal with the comments is to engage in conversation . Only nitpick the person’s writing if it is unclear, typo-ridden, or in some way distracting to the writer’s message. Ditto the design, or unless otherwise instructed.

You are also required to respond to comments on your site. These response comments are due Mondays by 9 PM, and should likewise be considerate and inquisitive.

If you are engaged by a particular comment discussion, you may continue commenting beyond the initial deadline. In other words, if you and a classmate get into a rousing debate, it’s okay to continue it the following week and those comments will count for the new week’s commenting credit.

I will be reading and keeping track of your posts and comments each week, but I will only sporadically comment on them.

REFLECTION(S) (DUE FOR EACH PROJECT):

 

Response Paper format:
• 500 words or longer
• standard margins
• standard 12 pt. Times New Roman font.
• works cited list, if applicable (does not count towards page length)

You should always be prepared to discuss your reflection papers in class.

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PROJECT 1: VIDEO PORTRAIT OF A CLASSMATE

Technology used: Adobe Premier Pro

This project asks you to plan, storyboard, shoot, and edit a short (3- to 5-minute) digital video in which you compose a documentary portrait of your assigned classmate/partner. Drawing upon the models of video portraits we have discussed in class, your project should revolve around a central theme relevant to the person’s life and the rhetorical and aesthetic decisions you make should reflect that theme. Your goal is to document that person and make us (your audience) care about who this person is. Think allong the lines of missing information. Make a potrait that capture what's missing.


Before beginning your project, you will compose a 250-word proposal for your video portrait. Your proposal should provide a rationale for: the individual(s) you will involve, the questions your project will raise, the methods you will employ, the audience you will target, the feeling you wish to convey, and the significance of the theme you will take up.
Also in the planning stages, you will produce a detailed storyboard for your video, laying out sketches of at least 12 scenes with written annotations for set direction, camera movement, resources needed, etc.
While the bulk of the materials you use should be shot by you for the purposes of this assignment, you may, if you choose, source and use additional audio (music, etc.) and archival materials (photographs, etc), provided that you do so in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine.

Finally, you will compose a 500-word reflection on your video composition process, discussing (1) your rhetorical and aesthetic aims in selecting, layering, and arranging your video content and (2) how your project responds to and expands upon the approaches to video documentary and archiving that we discussed in class. (3) You might consider whether you “captured” this person, whether you made him/her come alive in the medium or not. Discuss successes as well as failures.

Upload videos to your Vimeo account and embed them in our blog and eventually your website.

 


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PROJECT 2:  RECOVERY STORY


Technology used: Photoshop and Creativist

This project invites you to compose an original recovery story (see Erin Anderson’s “What Hadn’t Happened,” think about the art of missing information)—consisting of between 7 and 12 photographs, an introduction text, and effects in photoshop—which brings to life someone or something that has been forgotten, untold, or un-archived. This can be a recovered story about someone you know, someone in your family, or about someone or something you want to know about. The photographs may be of any style or subject of your choosing (landscape, portrait, etc), as long as (1) they are shot and edited by you for the purposes of this assignment and (2) they cohere into a unified narrative demonstrating attention to the principles of visual composition and sequencing we have discussed in class. You may take current photographs or collect old photographs. 
The idea behind this project is to collect and gather (dig up photos, texts, anything you can find about the person or thing) the remnants of someone or something in history, where "history" is broadly defined.  This will take a bit of research on your part. Don’t tell a story everyone already knows, try to tell the missing story. 
Before taking and collecting your photographs, you will compose a 250-word proposal for your project, laying out: the subject you will address, the story you aim to tell about that subject, the significance of this story, the feeling you wish to convey, and the types of shots you hope to capture and edit.

As mentioned, your project should include a written component (250 to 350 words), which demonstrates your attention to word-image relationships. This will likely serve as your introduction to the story as previewed in the creativist stories.  You may also—if it suits your rhetorical and aesthetic aims—choose to incorporate words into the images themselves. Keep in mind that the text should be used to enhance your narrative, not to carry it. In other words, your photographs should stand alone as a meaningful visual account of the story you’re recovering.

Once your photos are edited and you've written your text and introduction, you will translate your material into the Creativist interface. This will be how your recovery story gets rendered, once it's ready. After you have fully formatted your recovery story in Creativist, you will "publish to web" and make a link to it on your website.

Finally, you will compose a 500-word reflection on your composition process, including (1) a discussion of your rhetorical and aesthetic aims in shooting, selecting, and sequencing your images and (2) an in-depth analysis of a single image (choose your favorite one!) as it demonstrates your attention to principles of photographic composition. (3) Some reflective thought on how this speaks to theme of missing information and archiving. (4) Discuss how you attempted to convey your "feeling" and whether it was successful.

 

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PROJECT 3: PERFORMATIVE SOUND PIECE

Technology used: Audacity

This project asks you to aurally un-archive and then re-archive or bring to digital life a remnant from any archive or historiography. You will research a person or event, using either court documents, historical documents, or any other documented and archived material in the archive of your choosing, and then bring it alive performatively by writing your own script, using yourself or actors to animate people and events, all through the medium of sound.This sound piece is part non-fiction, all performative, and part fiction.
You will record, and edit a 4- to 6-minute performative sound piece. Your sound piece should weave together a range of sonic elements (oral interviews, voiceover commentary, field recordings, music, sound, sound effects, etc.) that you have produced and collected (archive.org or freesound.org) to re-animate your person or event. 
You will need to collect the sound and then edit it, making it flow, giving it a beginning, middle and end, using suspense, adding effects, etc. This piece needs to have a "so what" or what Ira Glass calls, "reflection."

Before beginning your project, you will compose a 250-word proposal for your performative sound piece, providing a rationale for: the questions your project will raise, the individual(s)your project will involve, the methods you will employ, the audience you will target, the feeling you wish to convey, and the significance of telling this story. Also layout what you imagine this project to look like at this stage--the different parts, content, etc.

After collecting your recordings, you will produce a detailed outline of your project, laying out the sequence, arrangement, and transitions of your narrative. For all sections that will feature your own authorial voice as voice-over (i.e. setting the scene, providing commentary, etc.), write out a verbatim script for your oral performance, with attention to principles of “writing for the ear.” You may use your own voice and the voice of actors or other volunteers, but you must write the script.

Finally, you will compose a 500-word reflection on your audio composition process, discussing (1) your rhetorical, aesthetic and affective aims in selecting, layering, and arranging your audio content and (2) how your project responds to and expands upon the approaches to audio media, archiving and missing information that we discussed in class.

Upload to Soundcloud and embed in your website.

 

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SEMESTER LONG PROJECT: WEBSITE

Technology used: Dreamweaver, HTML5, CSS3

For this project, you will create a fully designed, formatted, and styled website that will serve as a creative portfolio and archive for housing all of your projects for the course. 
This project requires you to:

  • Purchase a host: (this one is free and easy to use: https://x10hosting.com/ or biz.nf).
  • Draft and present your design concept—informed by research on relevant examples—including three preliminary sketches, a final design mock-up, and a navigational plan. 
  • Author your site from scratch in HTML5 (Hypertext Mark-up Language) and CSS / CSS3 (Cascading Style Sheets). Please note: While you are encouraged to use a web-authoring editor, such as Adobe Dreamweaver, you may not use pre-made templates or “sand-box” web tools to produce your site.)
  • Compose and edit relevant informational text and images for the site and employ a consistent design conceptualization and navigation system throughout.
  • Update your website throughout the term, integrating feedback from in-class workshops and maintaining an up-to-date portfolio of all assignments and course projects.

You are expected to revise and refine your website design for your Final Portfolio Archive at the end of the term. For full credit, your site should have some kind of dynamic design element (think CSS 3).

REMEDIATION

Remediation is the incorporation or representation of one medium into another. In their book Remediation: Understanding New Media, J. David Bolter and Richard A. Grusin argue that digital or new media are characterized by remediation because they constantly remediate (present in different forms) the contents from their predecessors such as television, radio, and print journalism (old media). Remediation, however, is not just adaptation. Sometimes, new media might present the old media in entirely new ways without any clue to the old.

Your final project for the course is to take any one of your projects (including written pieces, if you wish) from throughout the semester and “remediate” it – or re-process, re-imagine, and re-present it in another form. For example, how would the narrative in your photo essay work as a sound piece? How might your audio documentary function as part of a video remix? Or, for those of you who are interested in trying something new: How might you use the interactive affordances of Flash to shape your audience’s experience of any one of your media objects?

You will begin by writing a 300-word proposal that provides a rationale for two potential concepts, addressing: why the project you have chosen is well-suited for remediation in a particular form, what rhetorical and aesthetic goals you have in remediating the narrative, and what new material you will be producing as a part of the process. 

Whatever direction you decide to take this assignment, your remediation should be dramatically different from the original project with the equivalent of at least 50% new content and should demonstrate careful consideration of the affordances of the particular media and modalities that you have chosen to employ.

 

OR REVISION

Alternatively, you may choose to revise yor video portrait from the beginning of the semester. Yet revision here refers to an actual re-vision, that is, a re-seeing, of the project. As Adrienne Rich puts it, "Re-vision-the act of looking back, of seeing with fresh eyes, of entering an old text from a new critical direction-is for us more than a chapter in cultural history: it is an act of survival. Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves" (18).

Now that you've made media all semester, you should have the ability to look with fresh eyes. BUT: there's more. We have been thinking about storytelling, missing information, and archives all semester, which means your perspective should have opened up, too. What do you know now you didn't know at the start? Can you enter your old text, the video portrait documentary, with these fresh eyes, bring it back to life in order to say something else? Remember that what we document is powerful, but what haunts us is what we didn't document, archive or tell. Using your knew technical expertise along with your thoughts on our course theme, revise your video portrait, re-see it, in order to say something else.