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Finally Finished That Intensive Writing Course

I’m a senior with one more semester to go. All I need is some gen-ed credits, and an intensive writing course. Composing Digital Media? That sounds interesting, maybe I won’t actually have to write essays and just make sweet videos… boy was I wrong (except for making some sweet videos).

I came into the class thinking it was a software-based class, in which I knew half of the software already. It’s not because I wanted to take an easy class… I really wanted to learn more about the video and photo editing software I already knew to prepare me for a software-based world. But the class turned into so much more than software. Once I started reading DJ Spooky, I knew I was in for a journey. Initially, I was bummed that we spent the first month of class talking about the theory of archiving and the idea of a citizen archivist before we even turned on the computers, but I learned a lot about the idea of composition in a digital world. It made me think differently about my previous and future digital compositions.

First, I made a photo essay. It was a story about my grandfather’s beach house that was wiped away in a hurricane. It originated from his memoirs, which were recovered when he passed away. It turned out alright, but the presentation method I used is very lackluster. In another class of mine this year, we discuss methods of presentation for pieces of work, and I think that a large-scale presentation method would be much more effective. At least more effective than a 500 pixel high picture. No one likes squinting.

Second… I made a website. Yeah, I don’t want to talk about it. I didn’t even spell my last name correctly when I was making the domain name. It’s danbetesman.com/whatever. Not a good start. If I ever decide to use the website in a professional way (which I plan on), I will find a new host for it so people can actually find it. The website is the weakest of my projects, although I plan on improving it before the term ends. It’s a personal ideal of mine that I don’t show off all of my finished projects; only if I personally approve of said project. I currently do not approve of my website.

Next, I made an audio essay from a humorous historical event. I think that the script turned out very dynamic and entertaining, but the final audio file was not. My voice actors were not differentiated and dynamic enough, and the microphone I used had too much buzzing and feedback. It was hard to remove those sounds in the final piece. I also narrated the piece, and I hate my voice. So that didn’t help my overall feelings about it.

Finally, we made a group video portrait about two student rappers at Pitt. I think the project turned out great, and I am really proud of it, as the rest of my group should be. It is deep, has great music and visuals, and flows really well. This is something I would approve of showing off. Although some of the audio files were not very clear and were buzzy. But that is about it.

So I learned a lot from composing digital media, and although I did not in fact not have to write any essays, I wrote about as much on reflections and blog posts as I would have writing essays. I also really enjoyed how our class developed. Our group discussion was very open and stimulated. I think once we got past Derrida and DJ Spooky and started discussing contemporary project like photo essays and videos and audio essays, discussion started flowing freely. I am glad I took this class, and although I was not ready for the work requirement in the final semester of my senior year while taking 18 credits, I finally got through it.

California, here I come! Wait… need to finish that remix video first!

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New perspective….for life

What I appreciated most about this class was that there was a constantly stressed theme of not just creating something because it’s cool, but creating with a purpose.  I started off the semester rather annoyed by this motif.  I thought it was silly that I had to think of a subject for my projects that required some sort of meaning.  However as the semester progressed, I realized that this had nothing at all to do with the subject and everything to do with the perspective.  This will ultimately be a tool that will help me beyond my academic career.

Ultimately I have aspirations of being able to make documentaries.  There is a lot of cool stuff in the world, and I wouldn’t mind telling other people about this cool stuff through cool videos.  This class, however, made me realize that that only people that will want to see the cool videos about the cool stuff are those that are already interested in that cool stuff.  Creating an interesting perspective is both more effective and enjoyable.  An interesting perspective provides for those that are not familiar with the material a means of understanding.  For those who are familiar with the material, it provides a potentially new set of information or organization of information they have perhaps never seen before.  Most importantly to me, creating a perspective allows me to form and voice my opinion on a subject matter for which I likely (hopefully) have a passion.

Letter to Myself

I didn’t know what to do, so I just started writing like I’m DJ Spooky. Feel free to rate my forgery in class.

 

Dear Me,

Who is myself? Is it the convergence and culmination of a thousand brightly colored, pre-packaged mixed media vectors distilled in open-source sanitariums swirling through the digital soundscape and sneaking into my subconscious only to bubble up and boil over into my frontal lobes? What is the wetness of water? The aboutness of an object? Is my unconquerable soul brought to you by Xerox in 4 parts without commercial interruption?

These are the lyrics of a man you can’t merely understand, because a dream deferred solidifies in the hand of James Joyce as he hurls it at Proust’s looking glass, leaving as many shards as their are torrents on the Pirate Bay. Mental graffiti. Turntabling the shoulders of giants in a reaffirmation of the self using Ezra Pound as a color palette.

This is a letter from a Birmingham jail written by a free man in Pennsylvania. Rhythm science. Only the idiot stays tied in Plato’s cave assimilating binary code like a broken record set to record. Rhythm science is not a re-cord, but a re-write.

Every master is a remastering. A rematerializing along the imaginative plane manifest in the freestyle fencing matches of comment sections. Post and riposte. Rhythm Science the digital postmaster without being post modern, post menstrual, or post mortum. Remix is a fertile multi-celled organism constantly dividing, mutating, and risking absurdity in the mitosis of expression.

Torrent Science. Media vectors deferred assimilated into giant turntables. The lyrics of my frontal lobes distilled by a multi-celled looking glass. What is the aboutness of water? The wetness of my Xerox soul? 4 parts of commercial interruption swirling through the digital sanitarium converge and culminate in my brightly colored dream graffiti.

My Experience of Composing Digital Media in a Nutshell

            Ahhh… Composing Digital Media. I took this course simply to fulfill a writing intensive credit. I have a talent for art that wasn’t being put into use in the medical field so now I had the opportunity to relinquish my pent up creativity onto new mediums. I figured I wouldn’t have to do as much writing as a more literature based writing course, so it would be a breeze. Ha! I remember walking in the first day and hearing the syllabus. We were told about the numerous projects and how we were going to have to spend countless hours outside of the classroom learning skills and doing most of our work on the projects. This is the point where I started to question what the heck I was doing here, but something was telling me I signed up for this class for a reason. I thought maybe she was joking and just trying to scare us away, but now as I’m sitting here trying to remix my last video project on the last week of class, I know this was no joke. I can honestly say after taking many difficult classes thus far a Pitt I have yet to put as much time into a single class as this.

While daunting, you get out of this class what you put into. The amount skills we have accomplished in this class in astounding in the short time we had together. I’ve heard of whole courses dedicated to single, simple programs such as Word and Excel, but we managed to utilize numerous. While I have had some previous experience in Photoshop, this class was a much needed refresher and only broadened my comfort with the program. I had always wanted to learn how to code websites but have never pursued it, because I deemed it too intimidating and complex to learn on my own. Through this course though I was able to rapidly learn and create my own website in less than a week. After learning multiple programs I feel a lot more confident in myself handling all sorts of media.

            Ultimately, I am glad I had chosen to tough it out in this class. Although I may not need all these abilities in my line of work, I feel accomplished to have diversified myself and picked up this vast skillset that may come in handy at some point or another. Beyond just the skills, I learned I could accomplish anything I put my mind too. Like I said earlier although I am proficient in art, which didn’t so much correlate as much as I had originally planned, this was a whole new realm for me out of my science based knowledge background. I feel that the readings from DJ Spooky and deep thought discussions of archiving methods, definitions, and how much our lives are immersed in the archive, I have become better rounded and I am grateful for it. I was opened up to perspectives I have never heard before and offered my own. As tedious as it was at times, Composing Digital Media was a very rewarding class.

A post for the older, wiser, Edward Perenyi

Oh hey there future me. How’s it going? First of all I would like to congratulate you for reading this, that means you’re not dead or in jail, good for you.  Hopefully you’re living the good life in a city where wearing sweatpants in public is still socially acceptable. If you aren’t currently in sweatpants, you should go put them on because they are great, I’m actually writing this reflection in them and it is amazing. But you’re probably not here for talk on glorious sweatpants, because this is information you are already aware of. Rather, you’re in search of some important and interesting stuff we covered in this class because your concussion-ravaged brain can’t remember shit anymore. That’s cool, I got you covered.

First things first, remember that this class really helped you branch out creatively and really think about how to compose things that don’t suck. CBA killed your soul and made you really boring for a while. This was a class that enabled you to start thinking on a creative scale again, and not just about metrics and strategy. Although DJ Spooky’s writing was arguably some of the most frustrating work ever, it really helped you examine the underlying concepts of creativity and how everything is a derivative of something. This whole notion of the archive and everything coming from an archive made you pay closer attention to your life and figure out where your major influences come from. Also tangentially, don’t forget that thing by Judith “Jack” Halbertsam, that article was really good. You should reread it.

Probably the best way to help you get things from this post is to go over the work we did, and then give a little gloss about influences or something, I dunno, I have like four days left of college and I’m kind of zoning out writing this.

Photo Recovery Story:

coverpage web ready

You did a photo essay on your good friend Josh. It was called Home and it was pretty OK. Could have been better, but I mean, it wasn’t bad I think if you put more effort into it, it could have ended up something similar to this http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/01/08/nyregion/2010-hardware-ss_index.html or this http://jamesmollison.com/books/where-children-sleep/. These photo essays were amazing and at the time, gave you the inspiration for the project. The point of this recovery project was “to bring to life something that has been forgotten, undocumented, untold, or un-archived.” Keep that goal in mind for pretty much any fun projects you do going forward because it makes you decide what is important, and deserves to be archived.

 

The second photo essay you did was hella better, or at least had better images. It wasn’t for class, but the stuff we talked about for the course really helped out in taking the photos around Oakland. Also remember Oakland with the sort of photo essay you did on it.

The Oakland Collection

Hopefully you’re still doing photography, if not, why did you stop. That’s stupid. Go find your camera and document some shit. You’re failing as a Citizen Archivist;  moron.

Sound Project:

Forget this project ever happened.

 

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 10.22.50 PM

 

Citizen Portrait:

So what the project didn’t turn out the way you wanted it to. It got a few chuckles, and really in the end that’s all that matters. Right? Sure, whatever. This project was actually awesome, and hopefully you’ve gotten off your lazy ass and are making movies again because it makes you happy. This was by far the best section of the class, and always go to http://www.shortoftheweek.com/. This is pretty much the greatest site you’ve ever been exposed to, and it helped rekindle your love of movies and documentaries. You should probably watch a Brief History of John Baldessari if you want to laugh at a great documentary, or re-watch Amar if you want all of the feels.

Website:

Remember how you couldn’t do anything for you website, and then by the end you had a relatively well function page? That was pretty great. Hopefully you’ve gotten better and can actually add fonts and center things without losing your mind every time it doesn’t work. Check out http://www.w3schools.com/html/default.asp because it’s free and probably the most helpful thing out there for learning (or relearning) website stuff.

Just in case you forgot our webpage is http://edwardperenyi.x10.mx/ hopefully it’s still there. Also hopefully you don’t have to be reminded that god awful sound project, because it’s getting taken down right after this class is over.

Remixing and creativity:

The biggest takeaway from this class is exploring creativity as a result of the archive. Without the archive there is no creativity or progress. Everything is built off of something, so remember where your influences come from, and always be on the lookout for new ones, even if at first they are confusing and don’t make sense. So, in conclusion, get off your lazy sweatpants-wearing ass and go contribute to the ever expanding archive. Go be the citizen archivist this class prepared you to be. Be a part of the future by documenting the present before it becomes the past. Do all of this NOW. Unless you’re currently on Ambien, which is a distinct possibility. In that case, go to bed, I don’t need you running around on Ambien, that’s how you end up dead or in jail.

 

 

 

Pleasant Surprise

I’m not going to lie; when I opened the very first email Professor Campbell sent before class started, I was a little apprehensive about this class.  I took this class because I was tired of the normal writing/English classes and this seemed to be like a different approach.  I could never have imagined how much I would learn in such a short time.  Although it seemed very fast paced, it forced us to accomplish things most of us never thought we could.  My favorite project was the sound project.  I was able to take small sounds and clips and make something amazing.  It is a great feeling to have to know I was able to accomplish these projects without any prior knowledge of Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Premier Pro, or Audacity.

A few things I want to remember later on:

  1. Although DJ Spooky seems like an unorganized crazy person, his thoughts are actually pretty amazing.
  2. Basically everything in this world is a remix of something else.
  3. Google is my best friend especially when trying to figure out how to do something in Adobe.
  4. Copyrights can hurt more than help the future.
  5. Don’t just do funny. This generation is all about making something funny or cool.
  6. What is the so what? Of life? Of every project?
  7. Clichés are overrated

These along with a hundred of other things I learned in class will help me in life.  It has definitely been an interesting journey, but I’m glad I got to do it.