Thesis Update

March 21, 2008

The thesis is done. well with typos and everything still intact, I mean what is a thesis without typos? That all being said over the next few weeks I will work on putting it online and will welcome all suggestions and criticism.


Thesis due friday

March 3, 2008

it is the thesis week of weeks for me. See you all friday when i actually have discussions to post. Until then…

I’ve been commenting over at Flight Paths an incredible adventure in electronic literature.

Go and join the creation.

Huysmans


something introductory: Intermediality vs Multimedia

February 4, 2008

One hundred years ago the modernist tendency thrust itself upon western society through one keen shift in the way the act of creation was approached. Modernist artists discovered the uniqueness of the media in which they worked and exploited those differences in order to define their styles. With the trend of self-criticism, artist such as Pablo Picasso were able to approach three dimensional presentations through a lens that only a painting can recreate, cubism. Music saw composers like Igor Stravinsky who sought to redefine musical composition by experimenting with dissonance and narrative composition. Lastly in literature writers like Virginia Wolff and Franz Kafka used the narrative form of expression itself to aid their narrative styles of storytelling. From an observational point of view cubism and Kafka share very little, but when looking at how both Picasso and Kafka approached their work, they become similar in that they used what makes the medium unique. Medium specificity established the course of art for the twentieth century, paving the way for the convergence of media in the internet age of the twenty-first century.

The modernist course of art has evolved into the contemporary, postmodernist art world of today. Speaking generally, and utilizing postmodernist tendencies, the walls erected by modernism in exploring the specificity of media are being knocked down as the focus of exploration shifts from what is unique to what is shared. New works of art are exploring the relationship between media rather than the characteristics unique to each medium. Peter Greenaway’s The Pillow Book best emphasizes this new exploration. The film can be described as a visual representation of literature. The film uses literary tools to communicate while also transforming language into a visual art. The premise of the film revolves around a fledgling writer seeking to stake her claim in the publishing world. Frustrated by the rejection from her late father’s publisher, and lover, she seeks to use the publisher’s new lover in order to manipulate the publisher into publishing her work. She manipulates both the publisher and the lover by seducing the lover and using his body to transmit her text to the publisher. Thus the audience is given both a cinematic narrative between the three characters as well as secondary references to this literary narrative being created and distributed via a human body. The film uses, as its language of communication with the audience and with the characters, the written form in multiple languages. This form is presented visually, not aurally, and does not provide translation when presented in a foreign language. Ultimately the text in the film is not presented to be read by the audience but rather to be viewed. The characters, however, see the visual text as literature and seek to own it as quickly as possible. Were a text made cinematic it would not be interpreted for cinema like the multiple adaptations of classical literature currently popular in American cinematography, but rather it would be transformed into the cinematic image. Joy Sisley in an essay on the intermediality of The Pillow Book suggests “that as a radical mediation of writing The Pillow Book not only upsets a conventional separation of word and image as two separate entities and mutually exclusive media, but also figuratively closes the conceptual gap between word and image by reminding us that writing is a visual medium” (Literary Intermediality, 36).[1]  By closing the gap between word and image The Pillow Book skates the line between literature and film. Now it is very apparent as to which side of the line this “film” falls on, but nonetheless there are elements of the film that are more reflective of a literary narrative, such as the lack of any one character describing that which is written on numerous bodies throughout the film. The film’s inspiration is a real book written by Sei Shonagon at the end of the 10th century in imperial Japan. Shonagon’s pillow book was a journal of sorts where she kept detailed lists, comparisons, poetry and various other entries she felt a need to remember. The movie pays homage to this text through paying homage to the literary tradition. By emphasizing the visual aspects of literature, this film acknowledges the intermediality between the two forms of art. The essence of the book is preserved literally through the words on the body, while the film narrative seeks to create a relationship between text and image.

The late 20th century saw an increased focus in this intermediality with the rise of adaptations as well as new original works. It is very easy to brush off adaptations as unoriginal works of art reflective of a financially driven industry, but it is naïve to suggest that these reinterpreted narratives do not provide their own “original” elements. Take for example A Charlie Brown Christmas animated short, the first animated version of the famous Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz. Today the film and its soundtrack, composed by Vince Guaraldi, are seen as synonymous with Charlie Brown himself. But the original Peanuts comic strip was only a comic with no musical accompaniment. Once the Peanuts characters were combined with Guaraldi’s music, a relationship formed that transformed the narrative for a new medium, television, giving it a whole new depth and perspective. This new version is not a stand alone television special however, its style of story telling is completely reflective of the comic strip character that originated the story, thus it is a hybrid animation created through the combined processes of comic narrative styles and animated. auditory elements. The idea of retelling a narrative through a new medium is not a new concept; artists have been visualizing mythical narratives for centuries. But the way in which these different medium interpretations are interacting is. For example when the NBC television drama, Heroes premiered in the fall of 2006 it was accompanied by an online graphic novel that was published once a week, with the airing of every new television episode. The comic described back stories to the characters featured in the series while foreshadowing events to come. The comic was not a retelling of the show but rather it added additional narratives to the ones featured on screen. While it helped to advance the narrative it also reflected the intermediality of the show itself, a cinematized comic strip. Though the show’s narrative was completely original, it was inspired by earlier comic strips such as Superman and X-Men. Thus in the late age of modernism or rather in the age of postmodernism, media are integrating to evolve the narratives they are telling; giving The Lord of the Rings trilogy a cinematic equivalent complete with theme music or showing the tragic hero behind the wicked witch of the west from The Wizard of Oz in Wicked.

On the other side of this push towards intermediality is the immersion of a new medium of artistic expression, the computer and more specifically the internet. Thus far the medium of the internet has been mostly used to present preexisting art to a wider audience. The medium specific art for such a tool is still be debated, the argument of the artistic merit of video games and websites has not come to a close just yet. But it is important to understand that too many who are exploring the artistic potential of blogs and the internet at large do believe to a certain extent that the creativity behind the creation of a webpage deserves the same kind of respect as the artists who use brushes and canvas to express themselves. What can be agreed upon is the artistic potential of such a tool. The internet, using the computer as its tool for communication, acts as a fully interactive virtual space where anything from a painting, song to even video clip can be transmitted. This versatility allows it to be extremely adaptable to our growing desire for intermediality. As mention above, the NBC television show, Heroes, used the internet to publish its graphic novel that accompanied the show’s weekly airing. This novel could have been put into print, in fact in its online form it used many of the signature characteristics of graphic novels in print, such as the thought bubbles and organizational structure, the latter of which does not aide an internet reader in following the narrative. Because they placed this graphic novel online there were able to present it in multiple forms: a printable version, an interactive version, and an animated version. Each version of the comic told the same story but used different attributes to tell it, attributes that before the internet would have been considered medium specific. The internet as it is being used in the year 2008 (this distinction is extremely important as the uses and design of the internet are very rapidly changing in its ever growing popularity) has defined the idea of multimedia. Therefore the concept of an internet based artwork utilizing multiple media to present the creative idea is neither unique to blogs nor does it originate from them. But as we will see blogs have served a crucial role in expanding the concept of the internet’s multimedia capabilities.


[1] Literary Intermediality, 36


When posting comments

January 17, 2008

Something I am running into in trying to describe the various functions of a blog are the particular aspects of the comment field. I as the author of this blog have the ability to put pretty much anything I want as a post, anything from a video, an image, an audio file and each of these can be activated from the front page or the post page on my site. This multimedia aspect of a blog is very important and should be considered one of its defining elements as a writing space, it is not limited in the same way a book is. When I get to the publishing aspects of blogs later on I feel that this part should prove to be very interesting. By that I mean how does one print a multimedia blog? Has it been done?

I don’t know…

But that is off topic for this. I have a question for the blogosphere today and it has to do with comments. I know that one can put text and even hypertext as a comment to a post but can one put images and sound? And if one can’t because I don’t believe it is possible with WordPress is it possible with other blog providers?

I think that the comment aspect of blogging plays a very important role in the community based creation of this type of internet art. For the first time, well maybe not the first time but it is the most influential, readers can become authors of the blogs they read by adding their two cents.

So blogosphere become authors of my work and comment.

Huysmans


What will come of the book

January 15, 2008

In working through aspects of this thesis I have come across a fair amount of literature on the future of the printed book. I knew going into this project that I would find such discussions but what is curious to me is our desire to weigh in on such a what if conversation. Yes the book in its printed form has been a fundamental tool to our society since its inception and yes today for the first time in history that which the book offered can now be offered by something else. But this new technology, right now culminating with the Kindle I guess but I have yet to see this new device in action, can it really replace the book? Or rather is this really a conversation worth having. Now I know that I have defended the value of this artistic conversation and in so doing have met many individuals who believe the entire conversation of defining art has no value and ultimately hurts art in our culture, I obviously disagree with that sentiment. But with the discussion over the plight of the book I really see no value. This new medium will create a new art, not a new platform for the same art. So the better question is will the old art die? I don’t think so either, writing has not died out after typing became available, and with that I don’t think print will go out even if this Kindle and its super screen that doesn’t strain eyes really does work. 

I guess the point of this post is to get that out, I’d rather these authors focus on what makes internet writing unique and new rather than waste time describing it as an improvement to the book. TV is not an improvement to film and VHS did not replace the cinematic experience. But on the flip side I don’t think those comparative arguments work either, because radio I do believe is on the out thanks to the internet and soon TV will follow. 

 But both of these mediums never established themselves like the book did and that may be its saving grace. It is part of our history and its tangibility along with its content is what makes it unique. 

 

So here I am complaining that this argument is occurring in these texts and by doing that I too am contributing to the discussion. Oh well back to the thesis…

 

Huysmans  


Thesis Update

January 13, 2008

So I finally cracked into the writing part of this and have secured an introduction, well part of an introduction. I still want to discuss intermediality in today’s world and look more closely at art productions such as The Pillow Book and the multimedia characteristics of the digital medium. But that will come once I finally watch The Pillow Book. Next I am going to move onto the first of three sections of my thesis, the blog and its dynamics. Here as I mentioned in my outline I will focus on describing the blog as both a new medium of artistic expression and a genre of literature. So before I begin crunching the words I wanted to give you all, the blogosphere, one last chance to submit to me blogs that may fall under the following category:

A blog that the author is using to publish creative content that would normally or rather historically be published in lit magazines or journals or books. The content does not have to be all that they publish but I am looking for in general blogs that use the blog medium to publish literature.

Or a blog that performs in what I guess is the traditional sense of a blog, a blog that acts as a public diary or journal for the author, well written and established blogs of this sort will help to describe how the blog may have developed an entirely new genre of literature.

Thanks in advance and expect an artistic discussion post soon, I recently got a Wii and well needless to say it has distracted me,

Huysmans


We’ve got blog

January 8, 2008

I am finally back from vacation and have finished the collection of essays titled We’ve got blog: how weblogs are changing our culture. It was a very interesting collection, very diverse, and will be very helpful in understanding more of the specifics in regards to the history of the blog. However the funny thing about anything in print in regards to this topic is that it becomes immediately dated. All the essays in here are from the late 90s through 2002, which makes sense since the book was published in 03 and for a book that’s recent. But still in regards to the “A-List” blogs they talk about in the book, well many don’t update anymore.

 

But the important part is that it gave me some good perspective on the blog’s development. It’s interesting to me, but yet not surprising, that it started as a filter, as a collection of interesting links within the internet, one could say that that purpose is still around today, in fact most probably would, if not through the posts and tags then through the blogroll, but the blogroll isn’t updated regularly like the original weblogs were. I know from the book that the debate on which is a real blog still exists, or at least it did then.

 

Something I find rather interesting about this collection of essays is that there is no discussion of art in the blogs, these writers don’t identify as authors, many as journalists and probably a few as strictly writers or bloggers, but what is interesting is that they don’t see their work as art.

 

Something that I have been toying with is the idea that the public journal aspect of a blog, the type of blog that has become the most popular form of blogging today is in fact a genre of literature, a theme for writing if you will. I believe that it is a hybrid of an autobiography with the essences of a collaborative work such as the Surrealists would do. I know or rather can imagine that there are bloggers out there that honestly write what really does happen to them in that given post but they are still adding opinion, interpretation, hopefully artistic exaggeration, and lets not forget style and format, all of which are artistic and literary themes so therefore I would almost venture to say that these blogs if they were to be found in say a Barnes & Nobel they would be found under the section of Blog Journal, which would be next to Magical Realism and Autobiographies.

 

Just my thoughts and I know it’s a week late but.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR and good luck in ‘08

 

Huysmans