Exploding Art Mimbulus Mimbletonia style

A blog by Julia Felix about experiences on the CAMS New Media in NYC and Europe study abroad program.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Titles are for people who know what they're talking about

***Note: If you are here looking for the link to the song I used in my movie, scroll down to the bottom of this post.***

I am currently sitting here in Berlin, listening to Boney M christmas songs, eating really good chocolate, drinking cheap orange juice, and waiting for my socks and underwear to dry after washing them in the sink with dish soap. This is the life.

The last two days have probably been the most intense of the entire trip so far. Our final projects were supposed to be ready for presentation (not necessarily finished) today at Tesla, a prestigious art gallery in Berlin.
Since there are twenty two of us, it worked out that our presentations should be about 4 minutes each or the audience might kill themselves. My final project is only about 3 minutes long, and I hate presenting, so my plan was to talk for about 30 seconds to 1 minute, and then just show the whole thing. It seemed simple enough, I just had to finish it.

I worked feverishly on my project most of the day yesterday, up until we were due to go to our scheduled event of the night: what apparently seemed to be some kind of VJ club. I don’t think John even knew quite what it was, because he also seemed pretty surprised when they revealed that they weren’t really a VJ club, but a company which creates interesting art projects (generally with a theme involving architecture) but happens to own a space where there are often parties and VJ events.

We spent about two hours there listening to presentations, watching cool videos that they made, and checking out the space. It was actually a really interesting room. All the chairs had lights on them, and there were these awesome refrigerators for the drinks at the bar that each had a little scrolling LED display which showed what drinks were in there and how much they cost.

I just realized that thinking that the LED thing was the coolest part of that night might seem a little offensive to them. The guys were cool, and so were the things that they did. I just like blinking stuff.

Afterwards, we returned home, complaining the whole time about how IES made us all gather and spend the money to take a tram to Alexanderplatz, even though we could have walked there in the same amount of time. Then I worked until 3am on my project trying to get it done. I went to sleep only having about 15 seconds left to do, which wasn’t too bad since I already knew what I wanted to do with it.

I woke up this “morning” at about noon, and started frantically working on my project again. We were due at Tesla by 2:15 (the show started at 3pm), but I wanted to get there early anyway so I could have time to go over my presentation which I hadn’t even thought about. Unfortunately, about half an hour into working on my project, horrible things started to happen.

First, my computer having been made 2 years ago, only has 30GB of memory. As much as my iPod. As I write this, I only have about 2GB left on here, and this morning, I only had about 250MB. Lesson of the day: Computers don’t work when you have no memory. I had to figure this out the hard way, meaning my computer/iMovie ate the last half of my project. It wasn’t too hard to put back together, but as it got closer to 1:00pm, I started freaking out. I added some ghetto transitions to make up for the better ones which got eaten but took too long to redo, and tried exporting it. But then it was only exporting the first half of the movie and I couldn’t figure out why. Random problems like this continued and before I knew it, it was 1:45 and I had to go.

As we walked, Caitlin and Stacy reassured me that we’d be able to fix my project when we got there since we had 45 minutes before the show, I could always put my project onto someone elses computer and fix it on that, etc. But have you ever noticed that when something dreaded is coming, time seems to go by even faster? Just like in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Suddenly, it was 15 minutes to showtime, my project was still totally screwed up, and on top of that I was second to present. Why, god? Why?

I exported my movie, hoping that iMovie was just being weird (it doesn’t deal well when you put over 2,000 pictures in it) and that my project would be fine when I played it in Quicktime.

5 minutes to showtime, my project has just finished exporting, and it turns out that the second half has completely disappeared and is a BLACK VOID OF NOTHINGNESS. Like my soul. I pretty much lost it at that point. My presentation was ruined, because my movie is just kind of weird if it’s cut up at all. So it was going to be me talking for 30 seconds, and then 2 minutes of random movie. I gave in to defeat, too exhausted to be stressed out anymore. Caitlin tried to help me out by attempting to put the iMovie file on her computer and see if it would work from there, but her iMovie is slightly different than mine because her computer is brand new. It’s amazing how much computers can change in 2 years.

I sat there, totally emo, awaiting my fate. This presentation was going to be so stupid. Paul did his presentation on The War on Terin, but I wasn’t listening. Suddenly, it was my turn to go up. I wasn’t even nervous. My presentation was so botched at that point, how could it get any worse? It wasn’t too bad though. The few people who were there who weren’t from our class were smiling and happy and seemed fairly interested in what I was saying, so I felt a little better. I explained what my project was, and that I had weird computer problems so I would only be showing about two thirds or a half of it, and then had Karina press play.

I watched it, thinking to myself how much it sucked that I couldn’t show the whole thing, and how stupid my project was going to be without the last part, which was my favorite section. The screen went black and I started getting ready to explain some more about why this project seemed more stupid than it was, when I thought I saw a small flicker of another part. Then I saw a whole chunk that I remembered putting in, then it went black again. I was a little confused and kind of stood there wondering what was going to happen next, when suddenly, the last part started pretty much at the best possible part that it could have. I actually squeaked with excitement. Not sure if people noticed that.

It played the whole way through!! Apparently some old guy in the front, who turned out to be a professor from an Art school here in Berlin, really liked it and was bouncing around in his seat while he watched it. Everyone looked really happy at the end (including me), and I got much applause. Then I got asked about 80 times what music I used. It was a little weird, because I almost feel like people liked the music more than they liked my movie, but at the same time, I really believe it’s the music that makes the movie, and not the other way around. So I’m really happy for Colin, my friend who made it and allowed me to use it. He’s going to be famous!

Afterwards, I got to see what everyone else’s projects were. It was really fun, since I really had no idea what most people were doing. Tom (T Dogg) did a really interesting project where he made 6 movies, all related, which he displayed on 6 laptops. Caitlin’s project is totally hardcore. She used Google Earth to make a map of graffitti artists in each of the cities we’ve gone to, and plans on continuing it. Her hopes are that it will become international and anyone can search for any graffitti artist and find all of their tags all over the world. I plan on sending her some pictures from Santa Fe as soon as I get there. I also really liked Jenny’s dance project, where she video taped everyday movements of people and turned it into choreography. I could go on and on. All the projects were so much better than I could have imagined. I feel like we really are all artists now, and John was really really proud of us.

After our presentations, we went over to the Philharmonie to listen to an orchestra from Prague. It wasn’t the best performance I’ve seen (I’m a little spoiled from my dad working at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and getting us free tickets all summer) but it wasn’t bad. They played a lot of really famous songs which now that I think of it, I don’t know why they’re that famous, because they’re not very good. Maybe they are, but I’m just confused by them because they remind me of vaccuum cleaners and other appliances since they’re used in those kinds of commercials all the time. I don’t know. It was weird though. But, the building it was in was the coolest building ever. I can’t even describe it, but there were cool lights everwhere and things were all at weird angles. It was awesome, and I kind of want to go back there just to take more pictures.

And now I’m sitting here typing. Still waiting for my underwear to dry. A lot of people went out tonight, but after the last couple of days, I thought it’d be nice to just stay in and wind down. Tomorrow, we’re going to a soccer game where John is going to provide us with all of our “libations.” We’ll see how that goes.

Here’s the link to the Obsession With the Sky Blinking myspace page where you can find Fever Dream, the song I used:

someday I might put pictures on this post.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

It's like San Felipe Casino, only everywhere and all the time...

Realization of the day: There is only about one more week of this program left. I don’t know how it went by so quickly. While people at Carleton have been studying, writing papers, and going to class, we’ve been submerging ourselves in art and culture, and more importantly (at least to me), learning about life and people. I thought life at Carleton was fast, but is life in the real world even faster? And if it is, I’m going to be who I am for the rest of my life in no time. I think right now, all of us feel this, even if it’s subconcious. Even knowing that we will be graduating in a year is a little scary. We were talking about all of this last night as the party died down, and I think all of us realized, as Julian put it, that we’ve “learned more on this trip than during all of freshman year at Carleton.”

It’s day four here in Berlin, and it’s going great. We have a nice apartment, good roommates (Stacy (again!!!), Rachel, and me), and of course, some very interesting art lectures. Most recently, lectures about public screens. We talked to two people, one who helped build many of the large public screens in Berlin, and another who told us about the direction public screens and surveillance are going in. It was a little strange having both of those lectures so close together (one on Thursday, the other on Friday), because both said very similar things. The gist of it was (this wasn’t what their presentations were about, necessarily, but it’s what I brought back from them) that public screens are going to take over the world. Or at least things seem to be going in that direction.

Public screens are definitely awesome. The first lecturer we talked with showed us some of the projects he has worked on, including the SPOTS buliding and a museum called Kunsthaus. Both of these have really interesting and beautiful screens on them. But it seems that having a few public screens in a city isn’t enough. Everyone wants more, which I think is a little weird. They claim that with these public screens, we can project art and other messages to the city, so that all people will be able to see these things, and no one will be excluded.

It all really comes down to communication. For some reason, we need to all be able to communicate with each other, whether it’s a random thought while we’re walking down the street, or a strange art movie we made in high school. But why? I don’t understand why it’s so important to show people things that they won’t necessarily care about at all. Sure the internet does this all the time, what with blogs, pretty much everything on youtube, etc., but at least with the internet, we can choose to keep watching it. We can always turn it off or open a new window.

But if these public screens go in the direction that it seems they’re going, then we can’t just turn them off or look away. We’ll see some odd movie on a building, and we’ll turn our heads only to find another movie advertising Coca Cola. My friend Lauren can’t even watch movies because they are disturbing to her somehow. Are we just going to ignore people like that? Will she be forced to walk around staring at the ground? What if they start putting screens in sidewalks?? Holy crap, the whole world is going to turn into some kind of giant movie screen, and there will be no escaping it! And then you start thinking about light pollution, noise pollution (they’re still considering whether to put sounds with the images), communication pollution....

Moral of the story: One to ten buildings with screens = cool.
Every building flashing different images and giving people epileptic seizures = Not cool.

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