Life Out Of Balance April 30, 2009Posted by chris drake in culture, cyborgs, humanity, technology.
Tags: binaries, cyborgs, human existence, nature, neo-luddism, Reproduction, society, sound, systems, technology, video
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Koyaanisqatsi- A recommended film-
Koyaanisqatsi opens with scenes of the American southwest, many of them filmed from the air and displaying the sheer hugeness of the area: deep chasms, enormous rocks on vast plains, all with little human presence. Shots of Niagara Falls and other troubled waters and an increasingly ominous tone to the music set the viewer on edge, as one begins to see signs of human presence: machines, pipelines, power lines take a place in the landscape. Nuclear explosions produce mushroom clouds over the desert.
People are eventually seen, sunbathing on a beach in the shadow of an enormous factory. The natural world soon disappears altogether, replaced long shots of packed highways. Sped up, they look like rivers of erratic light. The music becomes dominated by heavy steady beats.
Just as they seem about to explode in a frenzy, the images and the music stop, replaced by slow-motion footage of people who seem displaced, the music also grows much slower and simpler. After the previous section, this feels like a hangover. The movie ends with an astonishing, unbroken tracking shot of a rocket that explodes in mid-air shortly after liftoff. For several long minutes, the camera follows a piece of burning wreckage so steadily that it appears not to be falling at all, merely spinning in space.
Koyaanisqatsi asks the viewers to ponder their relationship to a social system that has come to dominate them rather than serve them. Much of the film is exhilarating and beautiful in a way that may seem counterproductive to that end. But the cumulative effect is more meditative than frightening. The film is not traditional in any sense. It takes the viewer on a wild flight from the tranquil (seemingly lifeless) western deserts of the United States, through the great planes of the nation’s heartland and mid-west, our forests and on to America’s largest cities. The pace accelerates as the music and images drive individualism from the minds’ eye. Modern technological life becomes impersonal and mechanical, and humans become robotic. Our everyday lives seem meaningless as we produce, consume, and maintain ever -increasing amounts of need. Technology feeds on itself and like the rocket shooting into space, as we speed to the top we our bound for destruction. Koyaanisqatsi is the Native American term for ‘Life Out of Balance’
Personal Manifesto March 25, 2009Posted by jr4024 in culture, gender, race, structure.
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I was the first girl born into a white, middle class, Italian, Catholic family of five children in a suburban area. My parents grew up in Brooklyn but chose to move to Long Island to raise their children in a better environment then they had grown up with. I was born female and was assumed to become a well brought-up woman. I was born white and was assumed to marry within my race and produce more of this race. I was born into the middle class and was assumed to achieve a higher status and the ability to support myself. I was born Italian and was assumed to treat my father with the upmost respect, take full responsibility as the oldest, and always put my family first. I was born Catholic and was assumed to be a heterosexual, complete all my sacraments, get married, and bear children.
Since being a student at William Smith College, I have taken certain courses that have changed my life in ways that I have not even fully explained to my parents. I have developed endless amounts of reason, through education, for why I do not consider myself Catholic anymore. This distance created away from my religion also allowed me to become a passionate feminist which plays an important role in how I live my life. As a result of this awareness: one of my majors is Women Studies, I am a very active member of Women’s Collective, NARAL pro-choice, and PRIDE alliance here on campus. With Women Studies as my major, I dream to work at an organization whose goal is to empower women in one way or another. Through the Women’s Collective, I have gained the courage and motivation to march around campus during Take Back the Night and I am currently co-directing the Vagina Monologues. In the pro-choice club, the majority of what we do involves sex education as well as giving out contraception to help create a more safe experience for college students. Last but not least, in PRIDE alliance, these members are very close friends of mine and I hold the Publicity/PR chair for events such as films and days that celebrate homosexual liberation.
The Exponential Growth of Information March 5, 2009Posted by chris drake in communication, culture, technology.
Tags: exponential growth, Hybrid Culture, Information, remix, technology
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‘Hybrid Cultures’ is an interesting and provocative topic that carries a look into the future of world cultures. Kelts’ Japanamerica only sheds light on a small portion of this whole notion of cultures combing and evolving into one. With this Age of Information and its exponential growth people around the world are able to communicate, create, share, influence, invade, control, and produce an idea soup in the media sphere. Globalization grows alongside information growth, which creates a world of Hybrid Cultures. Ultimately we are looking at a very distant future where there will be one unify culture, blended from all cultures past. A supreme remixing and growth of everything.
Week Long Anime Events @ HWS: Pop Culture from a Multipolar Japan with Roland Kelts February 24, 2009Posted by animatingthecyborg in anime, comics, culture, film, manga.
Tags: Anthony Weintraub, campus events, Grave of the Fireflies, Pop Culture from a Multipolar Japan, roland kelts, Tekkonkinkreet
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Monday, March 2, Sanford Room, 6:30 p.m. Animé Film, Grave of the Fireflies
Taking place toward the end of World War II in Japan, Grave of the Fireflies is the poignant tale of two orphaned children, Seita and his younger sister Setsuko, who try to survive amidst widespread famine and the callous indifference of their countrymen. Some critics consider it one of the most powerful anti-war movies ever made. Animation historian Ernest Rister compares the film to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List and says, “it is the most profoundly human animated film I’ve ever seen.”
Panel discussion follows film with Professors Les Friedman, Lisa Yoshikawa and Leah Shafer, and students.
Tuesday, March 3, Sanford Room, 6:30 p.m. Animé Film, Tekkonkinkreet
Tekkonkinkreet centers on a pair of orphaned street kids – the tough, canny Kuro (Black) and the childish but mysteriously intuitive Shiro (White) – as they deal with Yakuza attempting to take over Takara Machi (Treasure Town). Tekkonkinkreet is a pun on “tekkin concrete,” the Japanese term for reinforced concrete; it suggests the opposition of the concrete city against the strength of imagination. This film won the 2008 Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year, the Grand Prix award at the Anima 2008 festival, the prestigious Best Film Award at the 2006 Mainichi Film Awards, and was named the number one film of 2006 in the annual “Best of” roundup by the New York Museum of Modern Art’s Artforum magazine.
Panel discussion follows with screenwriter Anthony Weintraub, and Japanamerica author Roland Kelts.
Wednesday, March 4, Geneva Room, 7:30 p.m. Pop Culture from a Multipolar Japan, Roland Kelts
Is there something more to the U.S.’s fascination with Japanese animé and manga? How are animé films and manga comics cultural channeling zones, opened by the horrors of war and disaster and animated by the desire to assemble a world of new looks, feelings and identities?
Professor at the University of Tokyo, Sophia University and the University of the Sacred Heart Tokyo, Roland Kelts addresses the movement of Japanese culture into the West as sign and symptom of broader reanimations. With uncertainty now the norm, style, he argues, is trumping identity, explaining, in part, the success of Japanese pop and fashion, design and cuisine in the West. As Western mindsets encounter a rapid decline in longstanding binaries – good/evil, woman/man, black/white – Japan’s cultural narratives evolve in borderless, unstable worlds where characters transform, morality is multifaceted, and endings inconclusive. Animation allows an aesthetic freedom wherein these transformations and gender ambiguity may be given fuller play than in live action films. Nothing appears fixed. No surprise, perhaps, argues Kelts, coming from the only people to have suffered the immediate transformations of two atomic bombs and the instant denigration of their supreme polar father: the Japanese Emperor. Author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US, Kelts is also a contributing writer and editor for A Public Space and Adbusters magazines, and a columnist for The Daily Yomiuri. His articles have appeared in The Village Voice, Newsday, Cosmopolitan, Vogue and The Japan Times. He is the editor in chief of Animé Masterpieces, an anime lecture and screening series. Kelts divides his time between New York and Tokyo.
Films, panels and lecture are co-sponsored by Comparative Literature, Media and Society, The Young Memorial Trust for International Peace and Understanding, and Animé Central, and presented in association with Anime Masterpieces, a project of Gorgeous Entertainment.
Join us for a roundtable discussion session with Roland Kelts on Thursday 8:45-10:10 in the Fisher Center, Demarest 212.