Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Event Write Ups

This year I attended 3 different events, all of which are mostly related to dance.  However, though they are all similar in dance, the different styles of dance as well as the setting and conditions for which the dances occurred offered much to learn. 
Thriller 2013
            On October 28th, the night of the Reno Zombie Pub Crawl, I performed in the annual performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller under the Reno arch.  The performance was of the iconic dance from the 1990’s legend, and was executed entirely by volunteers who were either self-taught or participated in one of the many practices set up by event coordinators.  This was the 3rd year in a row that I participated, and just like the years before I was stationed in the front row for the performance.  The event typically boasts 100+ member participation and a 300+ captive audience.  Though the event was much larger in scale, because the event had no entry costs and was fueled entirely by volunteers, many of which who had no dancing backgrounds, the event was marred with a couple interesting issues that smaller but more formal performances typically did not have. 
            One of the largest larger issues was dealing with stubborn performers or stubborn parents of performers.  With no entry costs and no centralized standard of skill for the performance, there were many who believed they had the right to the front row of the event.  Though there were assigned volunteers to deal with situating these people, dealing with them was too much of an issue.  This led to a large amount of crowding towards the front, with many who were either unskilled at the performance, not dressed in costume, or otherwise unfit. 
            Despite the issue of stubborn participants, the event was still a large success.  Notably, the issue is not necessarily exclusive to volunteer performances and the size of the event undoubtedly compounded the issue.  Overall though, the Reno Thriller performance continues to be a wonderful and fun event that I hope to attend while I am in Reno. 

Hip-Hop Dance Classes
            Over the semester I’ve managed tried two Hip-Hop dance classes.  One of the classes was taught by an instructor at the Heart and Sole Dance and the other was taught at the Sparks Elite Dance Academy. However, despite teaching the same discipline, both focused on entirely different aspects of Hip-Hop.
            The session at the Heart and Sole Dance Academy started with a quick warm-up to loosen the joints, and then led into different techniques and principles that compile Hip-Hop.  For this specific session, the instructor taught hitting, speed changes, isolation, fixed-points, and miming.  Hitting is the art of leaving a movement relaxed, then tensing up.  This is essentially the basic building block into “pop and lock”.  Speed changes are similar and start with a quick movement that slows down, typically to match a tempo change or “drop” within the music.  Isolation is the practice of isolating a single body part and moving that part without moving the rest of the body.  Fixed-points anchors a body part to some point in space and moves the rest of the body around.  Isolation and fixed-points are then combined into miming, which is just mimicking a mime. 
            The session at the Sparks Elite Dance Academy started with an elongated warm-up to get the blood flowing. Afterwards we worked on choreography for Will.I.Am’s “Screen and Shout”.  The choreography was broken down into short sections.  The choreo for the first couple seconds where taught slowly and broken down step by step.  Afterwards it was taught faster, and then once again to the music.  After the group got it down, the next part of the choreo was taught and so on.
            Despite being of the same practice, the two sessions were entirely different.  Elite Dance Academy focused more the different techniques and theories that comprised Hip-Hop, whereas the Heart and Sole Dance Academy focused on the application of Hip-Hop and how it is appropriated to fit the music.  In the context of learning and building up to be a Hip-Hop dancer, one builds the foundational knowledge and the other builds the stamina and works one’s body to the music.

Argentine Tango Class
            Starting in November, UNR was hosting an Argentine Tango Class in the KC Rotunda.  Since I had taken a social dance class before, I was quite interested in the class, especially since I had not yet had experience with Argentine Tango specifically. 
            Argentine Tango differed from many of the other social dances I had learned before.  Despite having Tango in the name, it was far different from the regular Tango.  The differences can best be illustrated through the “basic” step of each dance.  In regular Tango, the basic step travels in one direction.  Tango in general is meant to be a dance in which all the dancers on the floor follow the same line of dance, which is in a counter-clockwise direction around the floor.  Argentine Tango, however, uses a “basic” step that is more like the Waltz basic step.  The Waltz basic step, or “box step”, goes in 4 different directions, typically following a box shape.  The Argentine Tango basic step however seems to take that box and stretch it out.  Whereas the Waltz starts with a step forward, step to the side, step back, and a step to start back where the couple started, the Argentine Tango starts with a small step back, a step to the side, two steps forward, a step to the side, and a step back and ending a bit further forward.  Argentine Tango also has a few nuances that are considered taboo in other forms of dance I have learned.  For instance, in each other form of social dance, the couples mirror each other – a step with the left forward with the left foot is met a step back with the right foot of the other.  However, in Argentine Tango, it is legal for the couples to take crossed steps – the couples can both use the same foot, and both take a step forward to cross legs.
            Just like any other social dance, Argentine Tango differs from the other dances despite all being under the social dance umbrella.  These differences all preserve the culture of the dance’s backgrounds, but more importantly give me something to do with my life.

Final Project : A Digital You

Final Project: A Digital You

Part 1:
Statement:  This victory lap of a final was meant to create a digital representation of oneself through Second Life.  Part 1 entailed creating an avatar and having it as close as a representation of my real self.  To do this, I first picked an image of myself to base my avatar off of.  I always enjoyed the look of being in a suit, so I chose one of those - my avatar indifferently donning fancy pants wear as well.  On a side note, trying to find fitting hair was a lot more difficult than I thought.  From what I could tell, a good majority of the apparel and accessories on second life cater especially to the extravagant, so finding something closer to the typical of real life was a lot more irritating than I hoped.  Additionally, the market seems flooded with scams as well.  A good majority of the less expensive goods were not exactly the same as advertised.

Part 2:

Statement:  For the second part, we had the chance to create an alternate persona.  These fantasy selves would be a representation of our inner selves - someone who is not bound by social constraints and a self that would express some aspect of our inner desires.  For my fantasy self, I chose this handsome face.

  I thought this nightmare inducing monstrosity would be a unique representation of an already unique individual.  This creation started from a simple thought.  Many of my friends also describe me as someone who always puts strong effort towards anything that I take interest in.  I like to think of myself as a multifaceted individual, and I like don't like to half ass anything I find enjoyable.  So I took this thinking and integrated it into the customization options in Second Life.  I wouldn't "half ass" anything, so all the sliders for customization where put at the extreme ends.  I thought this was a rather nice representation of a fantasy self.  Additionally, while I was doing this I couldn't help but feel that my avatar was making a social commentary about online personas.  I feel that every persona, but online and not, is some sort of manipulation or exaggeration of existing traits of the origin.  However, many times these manipulations or exaggerations are contorted and twisted into something that would never be accepted properly in mainstream society - trolling, bullying, furry fandom, etc. 

But in any regards, both my real avatar and fantasy avatar show their disapproval over how much of a creepy wreck the fantasy avatar turned out.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Project 6: Reality and Fantasy

Statement:  The goal of this project was to take objects found in reality and create a duplicate version of it through 3D modeling - in this case google Sketchup.  Two seperate pieces were considered for this project.  The first was a single piece - I used a PS3 Controller.  This little guy is representative of my passion for video games.  I chose the PS3 controller specifically because out of the consoles I have owned over the years, this controller design has stayed faithful over the generations.  It has become a symbol of the newest gaming has to offer while at the same to retaining respect for the games of old. The second piece I chose was a chessboard.  This chessboard sits on a table right outside of my room in my apartment, and I see it almost on a daily basis.  Although I'm not exactly the biggest chess fan, I have always appreciated the look of game and the individual pieces.  I hold added respect of it as it is essentially the ancestor of one of my favorite genres of video games - the strategy genre.

All in all this project was quite enjoyable.  However, I did make the mistake of leaving the objects with the most required contour for last.  I found that each of the individual chess pieces came out especially well, except for the knight.  Where-as the  previous chess pieces were radial for the most part in design, the knight had a lot of weird rounded contour that made it very hard to model as perfectly as I would have liked it too.  Whereas the other pieces were created and modified in a timely manner (about 2 hours each), the knight by itself took at least 5 to get to a point that I was happy with.  The same similar issue happen with the PS3 controller.  Getting the base design and shape down for the controller seemed to be easy, and I didn't quite think the shape of it was anything to hard to deal with.  However, after looking at the back of the controller, I found that the contours and shapes were a lot more difficult than I originally thought.  Additionally, the small details also complicated the piece more than needed.  Also, texturing on round or circular objects is the devil. . .

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Digital Nation Discussion Question

1.)  Digital Nation accounts the opinion of the top college professors on the use of laptops in their class.  One comments that even though the students are present and all the answers to a test are given prior to the test, they score terribly due to the access of laptops.  These professors mostly blame the laptops.  However, the students of the class argue that the laptop is not the issue, and that they are well capable of multitasking.  Who do you believe to be right?  Could this be evidence of a larger overlying issue?  (Focus, Priorities, an education system not up to snuff to the newest trends of technology/society)?

2.)  Technology has progressed with little resistance in terms of communication advances.  There was little dispute over the advent of the telegraph, telephone, fax, email, etc,.  What about laptops and smartphones do you believe to be so much more controversial?
     -) Consider a person who spends most of his time on the computer vs a person who spends the same amount of time reading books.  How do you suppose society would view the two differently despite both haphazardly living vicariously?  What does that say about our society?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Project 4: Grayscale Lesbian - Maybe if You Hit it Harder

Statement: Project 4 - Shooting a movie~!  This project involved picking an already made video and emulating the style.  For this one, I chose to use Chris Mann's "Maybe if you Hit it Hard" (http://www.ubu.com/film/mann.html).  Why, because Sean, that's why.  This video was shot at home with the use of a camcorder borrowed from the @ONE. Editing was done via VDSC Video editor.

The video in question was actually quite easy on the editing side, as the video itself was shot with little to no dynamic camera movement or techniques.  By the looks of it it was done strictly with a tri-pod, which is the route I used.  I added in a blur every now and then to simulate refocusing, but other than that it seemed that the more nifty editing used on the vid the less it emulated the original work.  That said, Chris is a weirdo.  Trying to mimic his patterns was quite annoying.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Busting the Tube: A Brief History of Video Art - Response Questions

1.)  The reading suggests that "as technology advances, so does the human sensory perception needed to receive it."  However, technology continues to advance beyond the normal capabilities of human perception.  For instance, video resolution is becoming almost indistinguishable from the real thing, and frame capture is available above a standard human's rate of 60 fps.  If human sensory perception does evolve jointly to technological advances, do you believe humans to be able to break this visual limitations naturally without the use of surgical augmentation?

2.)  Since Sony making the first portable video camera, the regular population has been given more and more power to influencing and generating media.  It was no longer a right almost exclusive to the government or larger news networks. Today, it can even be argued that to the average American, government and large news network media is actually overshadowed by "at-home" generated media.  An average American may not know what the big headline is in the news, but may be familiar with the latest meme trending the web.  Between government and local/national news networks and the general population, who do you believe has the bigger media influence overall?  Whereas in a government or local/national news network dominant culture censorship and other media manipulation is the main problem, what do you believe the problems of a people dominate news culture?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Animation w/ Audio

Statement: This is my third work in Art 245.  It is the previous animation with sound added and a couple other minor changes (Red Blood Spats and Kanji).  The audio was mostly taken from Soundbible.com or Youtube.com with the help of listentoyoutube.com.  Audio was added through the use of VSDC video editor and Audacity.

I found bringing this animation to life with audio was quite easy.  The animation was originally designed with many cliches and parodies to familiar works, so adding the sound was no problem at all.  Without sound, I felt that the video wasn't quite as silly as I wanted it, so being able to add in sound clips from artists such as OneyNG and some of the GI Joe PSA Parodies really helped with that. 

OneyNG - http://www.youtube.com/user/OneyNG
GI Joe PSAs - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N4OPr_QxoFg&list=PL48743DA668B53AF7