Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Media in the future

What will media be in five years?
In five years, everyone will have, at the very least, the equivalent of the latest iPhone. Television will be interactive, and paper will be few and far between as a way of communicating. Everything will have a touch screen button, pre-recorded.

What will media be in fifteen years?
The future will allow us to fully interact with the virtual. All five senses will be able to participate in your media experience. We won't have to travel outside our homes as much, as we can do most everything we need over the internet. The world will be smaller than ever, as we can communicate easily with anyone, anywhere, faster than ever.

What will media be in fifty years?
The media will be a parallel reality for us. Media will no longer be a fantasy world. The most successful are the ones who know how to work technology the best, and those who can navigate the virtual world the quickest and most cleverly will have won. The media will be the source for everything, and it will all be virtual. Our relationships will have transformed into something else entirely, virtually.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Videodrome is an incredibly strange and almost disturbing surreal interpretation of how the media and television has an affect on its viewers. The plot follows Max Renn, the president of a Canadian television series, as he searches for programming to make his soft-porn station into something more extreme. The beginning of the movie touches on subjects of the media becoming too extreme.

While many said that station 83’s seedy content was destructive to the public, Max argued otherwise. He proposed that because viewers had his programming as an outlet, they would be less likely to act out elsewhere. Station 83, he reasoned, was doing society a favor, rather than the other way around. This case can be made still today regarding Hollywood’s compounding use of sex and violence in place of plots in new movies.

Max eventually discovers Videodrome. Thinking at first that Videodrome is just actors performing sadistic sexual acts, he soon learns that the show is actually real torture and murder. When he searches for more answers, he finds that watching Videodrome in fact gives its viewer a brain tumor, causing strange hallucinations.

The climax of the movie shows Max killing his partners at the Television Station because of the affect Videodrome’s programming had on him. When he tries to kill the daughter of Brain O’Blivion, the last person standing in the way of Videodrome’s success, she in turn reprograms Max. In the end, Max’s hallucinations cause him to kill himself.

Those who programmed him determined Max’s fate. He was at first drawn in by the bizarre and outrageous content of Videodrome, but then found that he was being drawn deeper and deeper into something else entirely without even realizing it. Similar to Max’s goals being determined by those who had programmed him, TV viewers today are subject to the same thing. Many viewers may not even realize the immense amount of hidden marketing and secret agenda’s being released into their mind when watching television or movies, telling them what to want and need.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Video Games as a Narrative: Super Mario Bros.

Though I have never been a strong supporter of video games, I think everyone can agree on one game that has consistently been great for the past 27 years: the Mario Bros series. Video games have become so popular because of the combination of player interaction and a good narrative. A spinoff of the game Donkey Kong, Mario Bros began as a simple yet unique plot. Mario and his brother Luigi are two Italian plumbers who must fight creatures within the sewers of New York City.

As technology advanced, so did the plot and popularity of the Mario Brothers. Super Mario Bros. was released in 1985 with an even more creative narrative. Though the brothers are still characterized as plumbers, their mission changed into rescuing Princess Peach from the clutches of the evil Bowser. Super Mario Bros., like a novel, is composed of various unique characters and subplots.

Video games are an amplification of a Choose Your Own Adventure book. The plot and its characters are already laid out, but how the player reaches the end of the story is completely customizable. Mario Bros. games have many different players to choose from, along with secret levels and various different mini-games and spin-offs. Mario Kart has less to do with the narrative of the original games, but allows the player to better relate to the game’s characters and setting. Players can choose their character, vehicle, and racetrack.

Many popular video games are based on an already popular narrative, such as a movie or a book. Mario Bros. did just the opposite. Super Mario Bros was released as a live action film in 1993. As a result of the film’s plot being so different from that of the video game, it was not well received. The atmosphere of the film was also darker, as opposed to the upbeat and fun tone of the game. However, Super Mario Bros. was nominated for two Saturn Awards and is regarded as a cult classic among fans. Despite the film’s failure, it is still evidence to the video game’s impression on pop culture.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Today’s youth is completely immersed in a new culture that was never available before- cyberculture. From videogames to social networking, our culture as a whole is being dragged deeper and deeper into a society that exists only on a computer screen.

The definition of an actual relationship is shifting. Social Networking was originally conceived as a way to keep track and communicate with peers. However, now the concepts have changed. Friends can actually meet and build their relationship completely over the Internet before even meeting face to face. Romances can bloom over without any physical activity.

Some argue the validity of this type of relationship, but nothing can possibly compare to conversing with a peer in person. Body language can never be fully conveyed over the Internet, even through the use of video chatting. Physical interaction is crucial when building a relationship, even if the relationship began virally.

From a marketing perspective, businesses and media play a heavy part in directing our society’s needs and wants. On one hand, a product may be made because the customer needs and wants it. Advertising then simply shows off the attributes of the product or service. On the other hand, the need or want for a product or service is sometimes created only after the conception of the product that is to be sold.

With the popularity of Social Networks such as Myspace or Facebook, companies have no choice but to use these as a means of advertising. Everything from gossip to an official event can be found on a Facebook page.

In a similar realm is the gaming world. A player can interact with other players in an imaginary world on the Internet or on a game console. They can make an avatar of themselves, which is just a projection of who they are or, more than not, who they want to be represented as.

Email allows us to send a message instantaneously with hardly any effort. With the advancement of “Smart Phones”, a video can be recorded, directly uploaded to the Internet, and shared with others around the world in less than a minute. We can communicate with anyone at anytime from anyplace. Our world is rapidly shrinking.

Oryx and Crake (Extended Essay)

Oryx and Crake was an amazing novel that combined post-apocalyptic themes with ideas similar to that of George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The story begins with the main character, Snowman, or Jimmy, living after humans as we know them have been demolished. The only other “humans” are the new super humans, referred to as Crakers.

The story than flashes back and forth throughout Snowman’s life, slowly building up to what really happened to cause the catastrophe he seems to be living in alone, as well as his relation to Oryx and Crake.

Although only one story is being told, it is split into two or even three different events. The first is Snowman’s journey after the apocalypse, his way of living, and his journey to survival. Unlike most main characters within this theme, Snowman seems to have, for the most part, given up on survival just short of committing suicide. He doesn’t seem to have a very stable form of food or shelter, and only decides to venture back out into the dangerous world as a last resort.

The second story involves Snowman’s relationship to Crake and Oryx. We meet Crake first. Crake is a young brilliant mind, yet a little strange and mysterious. Snowman, or Jimmy, struggles with his own mediocrity throughout his entire life, while Crake continues to propel to excellence. Crake’s location after the apocalypse remains mysterious for most of the novel, as does Oryx’s.

Jimmy’s introduction to Oryx and how they came to be together is told very slowly and is withheld until almost the end of the story. The tension of his romantic feelings for her is not acted upon until almost the end of her life. Information about her life in general is given to the reader in bits and pieces throughout the novel, holding the reader’s attention hostage.

The third narrative involves the advancement of technology. Unlike 1984, the progression of technology and the government’s interference is not shown as such a hazard, but the negative effects are still apparent. Jimmy grows up in an isolated community for most of his life. Jimmy and Crake, as young boys, spend most of their time watching or playing games on the computer, but not being involved in actual activities. This may just be an example of their personalities and their hobbies, but it demonstrates the evolution of technology being used as a pasttime rather than advancing and improving society.

The danger of misusing technology is fully demonstrated as we see how it is being used via medicine and extending human life. Eventually, what is supposed to be helping humans ends up becoming a dangerous weapon. The steadily increasing pace of medicine and technology, in the end, destroys humans.

Oryx and Crake’s ending is left open. The reader never finds out what Snowman decides to do when finally finding other humans. However, the true ending of the story was the final realization of how civilization was destroyed, therefore, leaving the reader to decide what Snowman ultimately does increases the impact of the wonder and imaginative aspects of the story.

Asterios Polyp

Asterios Polyp was an incredibly interesting graphic novel that used illustration to convey different themes. The story begins after Asterios Polyp’s house burns down. Asterios travels until he finds a mechanic to work for and live with. The plot then constantly jumps back and forth in time, showing his childhood, his successful career as an architect, and his marriage. Periodically, Polyp’s thoughts and logic is illustrated, showing his reasoning for his disbelief in God, as well as his relation to Greek mythology.

Polyp’s character is extremely intelligent and logical, as well as extremely conceited. However, throughout his life he comes to terms with outside forces, especially his unborn twin brother that he feels is with him at all times. Despite his incredibly rational way of thinking, he cannot ignore the presence of his stillborn brother. The mechanic’s wife, whom he spends time with while staying at their house, is incredibly engaged in the spiritual world, completely contrasting Polyp’s point of view. However, Polyp realizes that her son also feels the presence of someone who is not their, which is recognized by his mother.

Another character contrasting Asterios is his wife Hana. This is illustrated through the use of shapes and color throughout the book. As Hana and Asterios grow closer, the shapes and colors that define their personality mesh together, and then separate as they do. Hana, who is also extremely intelligent, is a calm and loving sculptor. As their relationship progresses, Asterios becomes more arrogant towards her and her ideals. It is not until their marriage ends and Asterios is living with the mechanic and his wife that he becomes more humbled.

Asterios Polyp delves into human relationships and ideology, as well as artistic elements and artistic style as subject matter. The message would not have been as powerful if the story where conveyed simply through text. The narrative and visual aspects of the story blend together beautifully, creating quite an interesting story.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Female Body

Yves Klein created a performance piece in the sixties entitled "Anthropometries", or "Visual Measurements of the Human Body" in which he used the female body as the paintbrush.

In this piece, the female body is used simply as an object. The female body in this instance has no will other than the artist's. Some may say this type of objectification of the female is negative, but I see it as the male appreciating the female form and wanting to collaborate with it. It is the male mind in correlation with the female body. If the artist was a female rather than a male, the perspective may have been different, but the idea of using the body as the medium would have been the same.