Mary Lim

Friday, October 10, 2014

narrative: mid-tern self-reflection

Explain your process/tools for this project. Analog? Sound?

As Gertrude Stein oscillates back and forth from clarity to obscurity, I utilized ambiguous figure-ground to visually represent this experience with the negative, positive space fluctuation. In attempting to translate this with motion graphics, at first I tried to combine all my ideas into one video. The text simply moved on the screen, and there was no overall concept. This made the transitions seem arbitrary and unnecessary, with too much going on in the animation. However, after experimenting with different motion tests and sound tests, I had a more clear direction to go in. People seemed drawn to the visual of a digital screen impulsively breaking up, to a point where the image deteriorated into static. As I continued on with my storyboards and my video, while simultaneously completing my book for Typography III, I was more inclined to go the analog route with stop-motion. My Gertrude Stein book ended up unexpectedly "crafty," with black ink smeared on some pages and the binding clearly visible. Though I was unhappy at first with my book, I came to love its imperfections. As a result, stop-motion seemed the most appropriate, in terms of the relationship with my book. The next step was to collect sounds that would set the right tone and atmosphere of my video. Raw and simple sounds seemed appropriate for Stein's poetry; nothing with words or a myriad of instruments. Still, I was open to other songs that could change the reception of the video. Searching for sounds on Spotify, I ran across The Notwist and Barbatuques. "Lineri" by Notwist was more abstract and "Baiao Destemperado" by Barbatuques was playful and light. These were the songs that were picked during critique, so I applied them to the video. However, many things started to go wrong as I tried to finish the project. I ran into many problems with my computer, with my trackpad, and with the rendering. I realize that this all could have been avoided if I had just finished the video earlier, giving me time to fix these things before it was due. In doing anything with technology, anything can happen. I realize I should have allotted extra time for these sorts of issues. 

Does your project communicate the feel of Stein's work?

The look and feel of stop-motion lends itself to Stein's raw, unfiltered poetry. Her stream-of-consciousness writings collapse the ever-coming present, in which I try to translate using a fast pace. Despite having all her language on the surface, she also uses repetition of past words and emphasizes certain phrases that have similar sounds. Because of this, I repeated key motion sequences to emphasize this quality in her work. Though I used figure-ground as a starting point, the videos seemed to stray-off from this theme and ventured more into the concept of illusions. In doing so, I lost cohesiveness with the book and the videos, however, added another layer of interpretation for Stein's writings. Regarding the poems themselves, I may have been too literal in my rendering of "A Table" and "A Centre In A Table." For "A Table," the video accentuates the surface of a flat plane, having black strips run across the screen and forming letters perpendicular to it. As for "A Centre In A Table," Stein seemed to walk around the main point of each phrase, leading the viewer in a metaphorical circle. Including a literal circle may have been too obvious and expected.

What did you learn about yourself through this project?

This project was very telling of my design process. I struggled a lot in the beginning of the project in trying to think of ideas that were innovative and fulfilled the project requirements. Since Stein's writings are so abstract and convoluted, thinking of ideas with conceptual standing was difficult. On top of that, we had to think of the temporal elements of motion. While trying to combine all these components, ideas were hard to come by. In general, I often have designer's block in the beginning of each project, simply because I feel as though there are always better ideas and because I get overly ambitious. In the end, this always leaves me compromising my craft and makes me rush to complete the end product. I need to allot time for re-editing and finessing details. On a more academic level, I learned about the nuances of temporal elements, where one second can make a huge difference. The way something exits the screen or the way the movement matches with the sound all lend itself to the overall reception of the video. Similar to how a storyteller uses timing, the intonation of their voice, and variations in dramatic structure (rising action, climax, falling action) our videos are stories in that it depicts our own interpretations. 

Does it apply to future work?

For future work, I plan to be more vigilant in idea generation in the beginning of each project. With more iterations, I can come closer to a better idea each time. Also, in order to avoid technological issues, I need to finish things earlier to finesse my craft. I also want to think more deeply about how to tell a "story,"whether it be through verbal communication, motion graphics, or interactive mediums, and what aspects go into telling a story.

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