Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Sorry for the delay

Eternal clockphoto © 2009 Robbert van der Steeg | more info (via: Wylio)

While I've never been a daily updater, I've been better about posting lately...until this week. My personal life has intruded as my wife and I move our apartment this week to a new neighborhood - which is a good (great) thing, but packing is killing my computer time. Which is also a good thing! Back with more soon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Helen Hill

Helen Hill holding chicken "Daisy" a...Image via WikipediaHelen Hill was a great filmmaker (among many other talents) who was murdered in 2007 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. She was also an acquaintance, and because of that I've been following the progress of her husband Paul Gailiunas as he has been completing her final film. He's done, the film is now touring. There's a grand, big showing in Columbia, SC on April 16th - Helen was from SC and that's where we first met. Here's a note from Paul about the film. If you live anywhere near SC, I highly recommend making the road trip for this special evening.

"This is to announce that The Florestine Collection, the film Helen Hill started in 2001, has been finished and will have its first two screenings very soon. Helen began this project after she found more than 100 handsewn dresses in a trash pile soon after she and I moved to New Orleans from Canada. She wanted to find out more about the seamstress and make a film about her.

She received funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and continued to work on the film as a new mother and then after Hurricane Katrina, which ruined a lot of the material she had already filmed.

After Helen was murdered in January 2007, I decided that I wanted to finish the film that she devoted much of her energy to. I got an incredible amount of help and support from our friends and family, and I recently completed it as a 16 mm film print, which is how Helen liked to screen her films.

The final result is a 31 minute experimental documentary that includes Helen's beautiful silhouette and cut-out puppet animation, as well as re-printed flood-damaged home movies.

Helen put a lot of love and energy into The Florestine Collection, and she was very determined to finish it. I am glad to at least be able to present my interpretation of Helen's vision for the film."
- Paul G.

The film shows:
Saturday, April 16
Indie Grits Film Festival
Columbia, South Carolina

It also showed recently at the Ann Arbor Film Festival.

Thanks Paul. We all miss Helen, and we're all excited that you've helped interpret her vision and have completed this film. I hope many film festivals and exhibition venues book the film for further screenings soon.
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Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Letter from the Future

Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machinephoto © 2007 Adam Lautenbach | more info (via: Wylio)
I am a 32 year old indie storyteller living in Pepsidelphia (formerly known as Philadelphia, before the crisis), population 23 million, and it’s 2018. I moved here after the “event” in New York City along with everyone else. Last night, I went to Lance Weiler’s amazing Opera, Hope, which was supposedly the culmination of a nearly seven year process starting way back at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival when he played his short film and premiered the interactive Pandemic experience, which began this entire Gesamtkunstwerk phenomenon (the German’s told us transmedia was a bad name, and this one kinda stuck). I was able to get a ticket through my friend who does code programming at TopSpin, which was lucky because all operas sell out immediately now that they work with established directors from gesamtkunstwerks.

I go to the cinema more often now that the Pepsi Alamo Drafthouse offers free screenings 24/7 to anyone who has drank at least 4 Pepsi’s that week. It’s really great because I only see one advertisement for Pepsi at the beginning and then the film plays, I order some great Vegan food and a Diet Pepsi water, or a beer and enjoy the show with all my friends. We pick the show we want to see the day (or week) before, and which theater we want to see it in – KidFree, MobileFree or FullActive. I usually go to FullActive because then I can see what my friend’s are thinking while I watch the show (from my retina display), and I usually sit on the left side of the theater. I’m not sure why, but I think the content is usually better there than on the right side. I think more of the clues to the film show to the audience on the left side, but maybe I’m wrong. Sometimes, I go see something again from the other side, but I already know the clues from the left side feed, so it’s hard to tell. The Alamo is really great because I can also choose to see the film edited specifically for my town. Always better than what I get on PepsiNet for free at home.

Speaking of which, I’m so happy Pepsi took over Netflix. That happened back in 2015, a year or so after Netflix had taken over Time Warner, and it made sense to change it to PepsiNet since they were now offering me internet service everywhere, as well as flix. Now when I watch films, I can choose which charities my points go to (I’m on the point, as opposed to pay plan which means I see more advertising for free access and get points for watching), and I always choose Sundance. Then, Sundance selects which indies get funded and then get to go on the Sundance Festival Tour.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Conclusion to 7 Trends for the Future of the Arts

Over the past week, I've been posting every few days about the future of the arts. None of what I brought up here was meant to be ground-breaking, but rather, was meant to be a summary of some key trends of the current moment that will likely have a profound impact on the arts (even if the trends aren't in and of themselves all that profound). I was hoping to spark some interest in the topic, and in the book where these thoughts first appeared: 20 Under 40.

In the original chapter for 20 Under 40, I ended with a conclusion that I won't print in its entirety here. Briefly, I argued that with these changes and trends come great responsibility for artists and arts organizations. We have a chance now to help shape the future not just of the arts, but of society. As I said in the book:

Perhaps the greatest threat to the digital future is society’s lack of imagination. What is needed most now is an ability to imagine what might come next, instead of trying to bend digital change to fit preconceived notions of the world. Herein lies the heart of why the arts sector must take the lead in these debates by experimenting with what’s next in technology.

The arts sector is well positioned to put forth innovations that harness the demand for participatory culture, for relationship and community building, and for connecting audiences more directly with artists. Such innovations can help people find the art and culture they desire and curate experiences that lead to discovery. They can help insure that democratic critical discourse remains an important facet of our cultural experience. Unless the arts sector takes an active role in creating the future, a new era of digital sameness may be the best we get, and our society will be the poorer for it.

My hope is that this chapter, and this series of articles on it will help spark some dialogue about the role of the arts in our future. You can check out each of the posts here, or buy the 20 Under 40 anthology here.

Editors Note: Oops, I forgot that I had promised to hint at three more key trends that I didn't cover in the book. This last bit was added after my original post:

I didn't have space in the chapter to cover the 10 things I think are vital changes. Here's the final three:

8. Diversity - The US is much more diverse than its current cultural marketplace. Arts organizations pay lip service to diversity all the time, but not enough is being done and audiences are changing and expect more options.

9. Global - We are a globally interconnected society now. I have more in common with people who share my tastes and cultural interests in Iceland (or Kenya, or....) than I do with my neighbors. Arts organizations need to think of whether they serve a global audience (not all will) and how they can do this more easily. Corporations ignore the state now, and perhaps so should we. In addition, we learn about and expect to interact with more global culture.

10. Remix - It's not just for music and video. Remix as a concept is seeping into other areas of culture and needs to be explored, encouraged and embraced by more arts organizations.

Bonus 11. Mobile - Ok, this one is obvious. Do I need to explain further?
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Electracy: The New, New Media Literacy - Trend 7 of 7 for Future of Arts

This is part eight in an ongoing series of posts on 7 Trends for the Future of the Arts. Originally published (and partially reprinted here with permission of the publisher) in the book: 20 Under 40: Reinventing the Arts and Arts Education for the 21st Century. I'm presenting selections from each trend, and you can follow the whole post series from here. If you are interested in these arguments, check out and think about purchasing the book here.

The New, New Media Literacy: Electracy

Digital technology has changed many things, but it has done more than give society nifty new gadgets and new ways to connect. Noted theorist Greg Ulmer has proposed that through digital technology civilization has shifted from orality to literacy to electracy—where all thought, processes, writing, storytelling, and business practices are based on or mediated by electronic, visual, motion media communication. This is not media literacy, but rather a paradigmatic shift which the cultural sector should not just be aware of but should be leading, as the changes electracy will bring about may profoundly alter the world.